Saturday, January 5, 2019

Bald Eagle - A Regal Bird of Prey

Bald Eagle

Back in 1872, Benjamin Franklin argued against the Bald Eagle’s nomination as the United States national symbol. The shifty bird’s frequent thievery prompted him to write that the bald eagle “is a bird of bad moral character”.

Franklin believed the wild turkey was a better selection because it was “a much more respectable bird”. While it’s true the bald eagle is an opportunistic feeder that will scavenge carrion and steal prey from other raptors, it’s also a fearsome hunter.

This huge, dark-bodied bird, with a seven foot wingspan, white head and tail, razor sharp beak, deadly talons and extraordinary yellow eyes is a fish’s worst nightmare. Although seafood is it’s favorite meal, the bald eagle will also strike turtles, snakes, ducks, geese, muskrats and rabbits.

The regal bird of prey can only be observed in North America but you can find them just about anywhere on the continent. They build some of the largest stick nests on earth with some measuring eight foot across and weighing up to two tons.

They prefer to make their home near an aquatic habitat such as lakes, rivers, reservoirs or oceans. If the local water source stays thawed during the winter, the cold tolerant eagles will reside in their territory all year long.

Mated bald eagles are paired for life and share all domestics tasks from nest building to hunting to caring for the young. They are devoted parents who faithfully safeguard the yearly clutch of two eggs and dutifully teach fledglings how to fly.

During the mid-to-late 1900s, the bald eagle population was decimated by hunting and poison, necessitating urgent conservation and a ban on DDT pesticide. The maligned bird became a national symbol despite support for awarding that honor to a turkey and now the resilient raptor has fully recovered from the brink of extinction.

A fish's worst nightmare

A regal bird of prey

Cold tolerant

A national symbol

Back from the brink

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