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Bald Eagle

Classification
  • Order: Accipitroformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Haliaeetus
  • Species: leucocephalus
Fun Fact

In normal flight, the bald eagle can fly at speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour, but when in a dive, the bald eagle can fly at speeds of over 100 miles per hour! Bald eagles are also strong swimmers.

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About Bald Eagles

The adult bald eagle plumage consists of a white head and tail with a dark brown body. The bald eagle is not really bald - "bald" meant "white" in Old English. The plumage of juveniles is an overall brown with some cream or white feathers mottled in. Bald eagles switch from their juvenile plumage to adult plumage at around age 5. Adults average 3 feet from head to tail and weigh 7-14 pounds (depending on the sex of the eagle). The adult bald eagle has a wingspan that can reach up to 7 feet. It is difficult to distinguish between the sexes, but in general, the female is larger than the male.

Bald eagles breed and then unite for life or until the death of the mate. The breeding season varies throughout the United States for the bald eagle. It begins in the winter for the southern populations and shifts toward spring for the populations farther north. The nest is constructed of large sticks and lined with soft materials such as pine needles and grasses. The nests are very large - they can be 20 feet across and weigh up to 4,000 pounds!

The female eagle lays an average of two eggs, but the clutch size could be 1 to 3 eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 35 days. The young fledge after 9 to 14 weeks and leave the nest to be on their own at 4 months.

Bald Eagles in the Wild

Habitat

They can be found nesting near large lakes throughout the United States.

Location

United States and Canada

Diet

They primarily eat fish, but they will also take other birds, rodents, and carrion.

Population Status

The population status is considered “least concern” by IUCN. However, hunting these animals in the United States is highly illegal. They were endangered due to the overuse of the pesticide DDT. This pesticide weakens the egg shells, causing the parents to crush them when they incubate them. With the ban on DDT, their numbers have continued to increase. It is not legal to keep a healthy bald eagle captive in the United States; all the eagles at our zoo are rescued birds that have been rehabilitated after injury and cannot be released back into the wild.

Field Conservation

Founded in 1985, the American Eagle Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and recovery of the bald eagle. The Akron Zoo is home to six bald eagles, two of which came from the foundation because their injuries prevented them from being released back into the wild. The zoo partners with the American Eagle Foundation to support their work to rehabilitate injured bald eagles and give them a second chance at life.

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