Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanusBald Eagle

Family

  • Accipitridae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 20 to 30 years
  • Captivity: Up to 50 years

Size

  • Length: 2 ½ to 3 ½ feet with a 6 to 8 foot wing span.
    • The female is the larger sex.
  • Weight: 10 to 14 pounds.

Origin

  • North America

Habitat

  • Coastal forests, marshes, lakes, and mountains

Diet

  • Wild: Fish, birds, lizards, small mammals, and carrion
  • Zoo: Lake smelt, frozen thawed rats

ReproductionBald eagle vocalizing

  • Bald eagles mate for life, producing 2 eggs a year.
  • The nest, called an aerie, is a massive platform of sticks and twigs in a tree or cliff ledge.
    • It weighs up to 2 tons, is 6 feet wide, and is the largest of all bird nests.
    • Eagles will return to the same aerie year after year.

Special Adaptations:

  • Eagle wings have deeply slotted tips for soaring and long distance flight.
  • These magnificent birds of prey live close to the water, often flying at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and diving at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.
  • Their keen sense of vision allows them to spot their prey while soaring high in the air.

Raptor Facts

  • Raptors are carnivorous birds that hunt and kill other animals.
  • The raptor has talons for seizing prey and a hooked beak for tearing it apart.
  • Raptors have keen eyesight and can pick out prey from miles away.

Unique Characteristics

  • The head of this bird appears to be featherless from a distance, hence its name.
  • Bald eagles can swim, too. They use their wings in a "butterfly strokes" fashion.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • On June 28, 2007, the bald eagle was taken off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
  • They are still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act which prohibits the take, transport, sale, barter, trade, import and export, and possession of eagles, making it illegal for anyone to collect eagles and eagle parts, nests, or eggs without a permit.
    • The only exception to this is Native Americans who are able to possess these items since they are traditional in their culture.
  • The Children's Zoo is home to two Bald eagles who were permanently injured and unable to be rehabilitated to the wild. 
    • They are owned by the government, and the zoo has special permits to house them here.

Note: On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle was chosen to be our national emblem because of it’s long life, great strength, and majestic looks.

Bald Eagle exhibit 

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org

  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org