The American Bald Eagle is a species of the sea eagle living mainly inland along rivers and large lakes.
An amazing looking bird, it is the only eagle native solely to North America. More over, it has been the U.S.
national bird since 1782. The adult is approximately, 40 in. (1 m) tall, with a wingspan of up to 6.5 ft (2 m), is dark
brown with white head and tail and yellow beak, eyes, and feet. Bald eagles typically feed by snatching fish from the water
surface, robbing osprey of fish, and eating carrion. They nest mostly in isolated trees, often near river islands.
Though still protected in the U.S., the bald eagle is thankfully no longer considered an endangered species.
The bald eagle, with its snowy-feathered (not bald) head and white tail, is the national bird
symbol of the United States—ironically, the bird was nearly wiped out of existence there. For many years, bald eagles
were hunted for sport and for the "preservation" of popular fishing grounds. Pesticides were also a major cause for
many deaths that wreaked havoc on eagles and many other species of birds. One such chemical is DDT. These types of
chemicals collect in fish, which make up most of the eagle's diet. Miami to Everglades Tours
They weaken the bird's eggshells and severely limit their ability to reproduce. Since DDT use was
heavily restricted in 1972, eagle numbers have rebounded significantly and have been aided by
conservatory programs. The result has been and yielded a wildlife success story—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has
thanks to its own efforts effective government regulation, upgraded the birds from endangered to threatened.
Though their numbers have grown in much of their range, bald eagles remain most abundant in
Alaska and Canada, but can also be found to be rebounding in areas such as the Florida Everglades.
These powerful birds of prey use their talons to fish, but they get many of their
meals by scavenging carrion or stealing the kills of other animals lower on the food chain. (Such thievery famously prompted
Ben Franklin to argue against the bird's nomination as the United State's national symbol.)
These handsome eagles live near water and favor coasts and lakes where fish are plentiful, though they will also
snare and eat small mammals.
Bald eagles are believed to mate for life. A pair constructs an enormous stick nest—one of the
world's biggest—high above the ground and tends to a pair of eggs each year. Immature eagles are
dark, and until they are about five years old, they lack the distinctive white markings that make their
parents so easy to identify. Young eagles roam great distances. Florida birds have been spotted in Michigan,
and California eagles have traveled all the way to Alaska.
The American Bald Eagle can live up to 70 years! In order to reach this old age the eagle must first endure a mid life transformation.
At approximately age 40 the eagles' old feathers, beak, and talons, are weathered and no longer allow the eagle to hunt for food or fly properly.
At this point, the eagle has two options: die or endure an extremely painful rebirth transformation. In order to begin this transformation, the eagle must
find a reclusive location to nest high up in the mountains, so it won't need to fly. Then the eagle will bang its beak against the mountain rocks until it falls off!
Once the American Eagle grows its new break, it will use the new beak to remove its old talons, one by one. Ouch! Once the
eagle grows new talons, it will use these to pluck out all its old feathers, making room for new ones. Once this amazing
and extremely painful transformation is complete, normally lasting five to six months, the eagle will take its first flight with its newly
refurbished beak, talons, and feathers. It is only after this long process that the eagle can live another 30 years.