Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle is also known as the American Bald Eagle or simply the American Eagle. The birds’ common name, as well as its scientific name Haliaeetus leucocephalus, is derived from the characteristic white feathering of the head displayed by adult eagles. A Bald Eagle is not actually bold, but the white head contrasts brightly against the dark coloured body. The second part of the scientific name, leucocephalus, is derived from the Greek word for white, leukos, and the word for head, kephale. The first part of the scientific name, Haliaeetus, is a New Latin word meaning sea eagle.

In 1782, the Second Continental Congress officially declared the Bald Eagle the National Emblem of the United States. The reasons behind the choice were several. The Bald Eagle is endemic to the North American continent and can be found nowhere else in the world. It was also already a traditional symbol of freedom, spirit and pursuit of excellence. Ben Franklin did however advocate that the wild turkey would be a better choice, since he thought the eagle to be of bad moral character.

The Bald Eagle is one of the biggest bird species in North America. An adult Bald Eagle will be approximately 29-42 inches long, have a wing span of 6-8 feet, and weigh from 7 to 15 pounds. The female Bald Eagles grow larger than the males. You can also notice a difference in size between Bald Eagles residing in different geographical regions. The southern Bald Eagles tend to be smaller than their northern counterparts. 

A newly hatched Bald Eagle will have a light grey coloration that turns dark brown while the chick is still in the nest. The colouration will usually be completely brown after 12 weeks when the young Bald Eagle is ready to fly. During its third and fourth year, the Bald Eagle will display mottled brown and white feathers on its head, tail and breast, and also under its wings. The white head and tail feathers from which the species derives its name will not develop until the Bald Eagle is 4-5 years old. During that same period, the dark brown beak and eyes of the bird will shift colour and become yellow.

Bald Eagles form lifelong relationships with their mate and will only seek out a new mate if their spouse dies. This means that they can stay together for a very long time, since a wild Bald Eagle can live up to 40 years. They can grow even older in captivity. The Bold Eagle couple will build a large nest together in a tall tree and return to the same nest each year. If the nest is destroyed, they will usually build a new nest close to the old one. Each year, the Bald Eagle couple will make their nest even larger by adding new building materials. It is not uncommon for a five feet nest to eventually turn into a ten feet wide nest. The eagles will use twigs, grass, soft mosses and feathers to line their nests.

Eagle articles

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Bald Eagle Fact


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