Bald Eagle

Meet our two eagles, Amber and Liberty! Liberty joined us from Treehouse Wildlife Center near Brighton, Illinois in 2009 as a juvenile eagle between the age of 2 and 3. He was found with a wing injury and could not be released back into the wild. Liberty now has a partial wing amputation and is unable to fly.  Amber is a female bald eagle born in the wild whose age is unknown. She was transferred from the Raptor Education Group in Antigo, Wisconsin in 2001. Amber was found injured, likely to have been hit by a car, and is unable to fly long distances. Amber is very shy and likes to keep her space from people. 

Description
The bald eagle dwarfs most other raptors, including the Turkey vulture and Red-tailed hawk. It has a heavy body, large head, and long, hooked bill. In flight, a bald eagle holds its broad wings flat like a board. Adult eagles have white heads and tails with dark brown bodies and wings. Their legs and beaks are bright yellowBald Eagle Nest. Immature birds have mostly dark heads and tails; their brown wings and bodies are mottled with white in varying amounts. Young birds attain adult plumage in about five years. Immature bald eagles spend the first four years of their lives in nomadic exploration of vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day. Some young birds from Florida have wandered north as far as Michigan, and birds from California have reached Alaska.

Range
The bald eagle's natural range covers most of North America, including most of Canada, all of the continental United States, and northern Mexico. It is the only sea eagle unique to Nmap_bald_eagleorth America.

Habitat
Look for bald eagles near lakes, reservoirs, rivers, marshes, and coasts. Bald Eagles typically nest in forested areas adjacent to large bodies of water, staying away from heavily developed areas when possible. Bald eagles are tolerant of human activity when feeding, and may congregate around fish processing plants, dumps, and below dams where fish concentrate. For perching, bald eagles prefer tall, mature coniferous or deciduous trees that afford a wide view of the surroundings. In winter, they can also be seen in dry, open uplands if there is access to open water for fishing.

Breeding
Clutch Size: 1-3 eggs        Number of Broods: 1 brood    Incubation Period: 34-36 days

Bald eagles nest in trees, except in regions where only cliff faces or ground sites are available. They tend to use tall, sturdy conifers that protrude above the forest canopy, providing easy flight access and good visibility. In southern parts of their range, these birds may nest in deciduous trees, mangroves, and cactus. It’s unknown whether the male or the female takes the lead in selecting a nest site. Nests are typically built near the trunk, high up in the tree but below the crown. The largest bald eagle nest on record was 2.9 meters in diameter and 6.1 meters tall. Another famous nest—in Vermilion, Ohio—was shaped like a wine glass and weighed almost two metric tons! It was used for 34 years until the tree blew down.

Life Expectancy
In the wild: Around 28 years 
In human care: Around 36 years

Natural Diet
Fish of many kinds constitute the centerpiece of the bald eagle diet (common examples include Bald Eagle Fishingsalmon, herring, shad, and catfish), but these birds eat a wide variety of foods depending on what’s available. They eat birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates such as crabs, and mammals including rabbits and muskrats. They take their prey live, fresh, or as carrion. Eagles sometimes gorge, ingesting a large amount of food and digesting it over several days. They can also survive fasting for many days, even weeks. Rather than do their own fishing, bald eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. A bald eagle will harass a hunting osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up. Fishing mammals (even people sometimes) can also lose prey to bald eagle piracy.