American Bald Eagle
The bald eagle--a symbol of America. But what is it and where did it come from? The bald eagle has been the official bird of America since 1782 when it was chosen as the great seal of the United States. The reasons for choosing the bald eagle as our national seal were, its majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and it is native to North America.
Bald eagles are one of the large birds of prey native to North America, with a wingspan of about seven feet. They are powerful fliers; they can reach speeds over 35 mph during flight and between 75 to 99 mph in a hunting dive. The adult bald eagle weighs eight to fourteen pounds with the female eagle the larger and heavier of the two genders. Both male and female adult bald eagles have a blackish-brown back and breast; a white head, neck, and tail; and yellow feet and bill.
Young birds have mostly dark heads and tails; their brown wings and bodies are mottled with white in varying amounts. Bald eagle babies attain adult plumage in about five years. Bald eglets leave nest at about twelve weeks old.
Bald eagles' favorite food is fish, but they will also eat other birds, ducks, muskrats, and sometimes turtles. They also eat carrion (dead animals). They are notorious for robbing osprey of their catches. They have several adaptations which enable them to be the predator instead of the prey. They have excellent eyesight which gives them great vision in front of them and to the sides. Their strong, hooked beak tears into food for eating, yet it uses its powerful taloned feet that actually kills the prey by penetrating its flesh. They do not have to eat every day, but if the bird goes too long without food, it may not be able to hunt effectively enough to survive.
Unique to North America, Bald Eagles live in coastal and lake areas from Baja California and Florida north to Newfoundland and Alaska. They are nearly always found near water. along rivers, lakes or the coast and coastal marshes,...