National Bald Eagle Watch Month & 13 great places to see Bald
The bald eagle was officially adopted as the U.S. national
emblem on June 20, 1782. Because of its native status and majestic
appearance, the bald eagle was chosen by Congress as our national symbol.
At that time, bald eagles were commonly seen in New England, particularly
along the Atlantic coast. People could readily view the eagle hunting for
its own food, occasionally feeding on carrion and pirating other eaglesí
Great places to see Bald Eagles on National Wildlife Refuges
The bald eagle is unique to North America. Unlike the golden
eagle, which also lives in Europe, Asia and North Africa, the bald eagle
only occurs from Florida to Alaska.
Due to the bald eagleís opportunistic scavenging, Benjamin
Franklin was against the bald eagle as our national symbol and wanted the
wild turkey instead.
In the 1800's people frequently shot the bald eagle,
mistakenly believed eagles could carry away young children.
Lewis and Clark found that the feathers of this bird were
much prized by the Indians and was used in ceremonies and decorations.
Bald eagles have a wingspan of 6 to 7 1/2 feet.
The sexes are alike, with the female being slightly larger.
Bald eagles sit 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and weigh 8 to 15
Their eyes are 5 to 6 times more powerful than humanís.
The bald eagle can lift 3 to 5 pounds
Their primary food is fish, and they will nearly always be
seen near water. They also eat waterfowl, particularly the sick or injured,
and occasionally carrion.
Bald eagles nest from November through April, depending on
It is believed that eagles mate for life.
Bald Eagle Watching Etiquette
During the winter, bald eagles are under pressure to consume
enough food and expend as little energy as possible in order to maintain body
heat. If fishermen, bird watchers, or boaters get too close to the eagles, the
birds will waste valuable energy flying away. It exposes them to undue stress
and could cause abandonment of a site. To avoid disturbing eagles:
Do not get any closer than 400 yards from a perched eagle.
If vegetation obscures the eagleís view of you, still avoid getting closer
than 100 yards.
When possible, stay in your vehicle, use a blind, or stand
behind stationary objects when viewing eagles.
Stay on the opposite side of the river or lake to allow them
a peaceful refuge.
Since over 70 percent of the eagleís feeding occurs during
the early morning, avoid visiting areas that eagles rely on for food before
9 a.m. That will help to allow the eagle enough time to adequately feed
before human activity disrupts their foraging.
In 1940, noting that the national bird was "threatened with
extinction," Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act which made it
illegal to kill, harass, possess (without a permit), or sell bald eagles.
DDT was banned for most uses in the U.S. in 1972
greatest threat to the bald eagle's existence arose from the widespread use
of DDT and other pesticides after World War II).
Endangered Species Act of 1973, Federal and state government
agencies, along with private organizations, successfully sought to alert the
public about the bald eagle's plight and to protect its habitat from further
In 1991, a 5- year program to phase out the use of lead shot
for waterfowl hunting was completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(bald eagles also died from lead poisoning as a result of feeding on
hunter-killed or crippled waterfowl containing lead shot and from lead shot
that was inadvertently ingested by the waterfowl).
In July 1995, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that
bald eagles in the lower 48 states have recovered to the point that those
populations that were previously considered endangered are now considered
threatened. Subsequently, the Service formally upgraded those populations
under the Endangered Species Act to mark this progress -- another endangered
species success story.
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provided courtesy of the National Park Service
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