Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

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Quick Facts
Body Length: 31"-37", Wingspan: 70"-90"
Height: 2.5'-3'
Weight: 8-14 lbs
Distribution: Throughout North America from the edge of the tundra/forest line in Alaska and Canada south to the Gulf of Mexico and into Northern Mexico
Habitat: Coasts, rivers, large lakes, mountains
   

Bald eagle has been the United States national emblem since 1782. They are not bald; the word comes from an old English word “balde” which means “white.” Though bald eagles cannot move their eyes from side to side and have to turn their whole head, they have exceptionally keen eyesight. They have two centers of focus that allow them to see both forward and to the side at the same time. They can also spot prey 1.5 miles away. While sight is their primary sense, bald eagles also have good hearing and use it during their search for prey during the day.

Description

The mature bald eagle has a white head and tail. Young year eagles are dark in color; they do not get their white head and tail until they reach adulthood at 4 to 5 years. Bald eagles have bright yellow eyes. Their feet have 4 toes with talons; three point forward and one points back. The beak has a hook and is 4" long.

Status in the Wild

Populations are now increasing due to intense recovery programs and legal protection since 1940, and because DDT was banned in 1972. Past declines in the bald eagle population were due in large part to shooting, pesticides, human encroachment, and a slow breeding rate. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Act and the Eagle Protection Act.

Conservation Programs
  • Listed as of "least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources)
  • "Bald Eagle." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region.
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