Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
The Bald Eagle, a magnificent bird found
in the Florida Everglades and across the North American Continent,
is held in high esteem and has a very important place in American
history. The Bald Eagle is a great conservation success and
the proud National Emblem of the United States. Bald Eagles
soar high above us making use of uprising currents and seem
to float effortlessly riding the wind. It is their wing tip
feathers, called primaries, that are tapered to reduce air
turbulence when fully extended which allows a silent, swift
approach to capture prey much like the "ear
tufts" nature gave the Caracal and Lynx .
Bald Eagles can fly at speeds of 30 mph, dive for prey at an
amazing 100 mph and have excellent vision for honing in on prey
of fish and small mammals. Their exceptionally keen eyesight
with the ability to spot prey at a distance of over 1 mile gave
rise to the popular saying of an "Eagle's Eye".
TO SEE ANIMAL WEBCAMS
The Bald Eagle was chosen as America's
National Symbol by the Second Continental Congress of the United
States in 1782 for its majestic appearance depicting strength
and for the dedication & perseverance
associated with the American people. The Bald Eagle is also honored
with a numismatic heritage appearing on our Nation's coins as
long ago as 1776 with its likeness first minted on a Massachusetts
copper coin. It was in 1795 the Bald Eagle made its first appearance
on gold coins called "eagles". The American Bald Eagle
is depicted on many coins holding an olive branch to symbolize
peace or unfurled wings symbolizing freedom with the Latin phrase "E
Pluribus Unum" which means "Out of Many-One".
This is our National Motto signifying the union of America's
original 13 colonies into one great nation. On Federal Reserve
currency notes, many U.S Mint coins and on the Seal of the President
of the United States the American Bald Eagle holds the Olive
Branch in the right talon and a bundle of thirteen arrows in
the left talon denoting the power of peace & war vested in
Congress. The Eagle originally faced the arrows but in 1945 Harry
Truman signed an Executive Order mandating that the Eagle must
face the peaceful olive branches, the way we now see our Nation's
Symbol portrayed on legal tender & government seals.
At the time when European settlers
first came to the United States, then called the New World,
Bald Eagles were plentiful spanning a large part of North America.
By the early 1960's the Bald Eagle population had diminished
so significantly, due primarily to poaching & habitat loss,
only 450 mating pairs could be found in the lower 48 states.
First protected by the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940, the
Bald Eagle was officially listed on the Endangered Species
Act in 1967. At that time is was made a felony to shoot, trap
or harm a Bald Eagle in any way. Subsequent revisions to the
Act in 1972 increased penalties and offered rewards.
In this same year 1972, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) outlawed use of the agricultural pesticide
DDT in the United States. Crop dusters spraying large areas
with this highly toxic poison were very detrimental not only
to the Bald Eagle but to many animals as it worked its way
into the water, lakes, streams and rivers into the food chain.
Ingestion of DDT-tainted fish caused the Bald Eagle population
to spiral downward by laying eggs with shells so thin they
cracked before the young eaglets could hatch. Due to their
conservation status, ongoing protection and continued monitoring
by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services
(USFWS) the population of Bald Eagles made a significant recovery.
Bald Eagles are a conservation success story being one of the
first animals to be taken off the Endangered Species list in
1995 and upgraded then given only a "Threatened" status
with now over 6,000 mating pairs in the continental United States.
The Bald Eagle is a large raptor more
commonly called a bird of prey, and in fact is not "Bald" at
all. Adult plumage consists of the easily recognizable white
head and tail with dark brown body. Juvenile eagles are completely
dark brown and they do not develop the characteristics adult
plumage until 5-6 years of age.
Bald Eagles have a primary diet of
fish but they also hunt moles, squirrels, and other birds & small
mammals. They range throughout the continental U.S. with higher
concentrations of Bald Eagles found throughout the coastlines,
from the mangrove swamps of the Everglades to the artic wilderness
of Alaska. Bald Eagles build nest in impenetrable places high
on cliffs or in coniferous treetops inaccessible to most predators.
Nest are very large measuring up to 6ft. across, weigh hundreds
of pounds and are made with large sticks lined with soft pine
needles and grasses.
TO SEE ANIMAL WEBCAMS
Male and female Bald Eagles
are similar in overall appearance but they are sexually dimorphic
with the females being larger than the males. Females weigh an
average of 14 lbs with males weighing in at 10 lbs. These regal
birds have an amazing wingspan of 6 1/2 to 8 ft. Females lay
anywhere from 1-4 eggs, with 2 being average with incubation
and hatching in about 35 days. Within 3-4 months the fledglings
are ready to fend for themselves. As with most birds, in times
of drought or limited prey, the mother feeds and cares only for
only the strongest of the young abiding by nature's law of survival
of the fittest. Eagles reach sexual maturity at 5 years of age
and breed with remarkable aerial acrobatic displays locking talons
during mating. A Bald Eagle's lifespan in the wild is 25-28 years
and they been known to live in captivity for up to 50 years.
Today, with our modern technology researchers actually attach small
mini-cams to the Bald Eagle giving them an aerial view from the
Eagle's vantage point. Many wildlife restoration projects remain
underway to clean up and maintain historic Bald Eagle habitat.
Several webcams are available on-line to educate the public and
increase awareness for these majestic animals. Eagle
Cams are set up from East to West coast in Blackwater
National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Massachusetts, New York's
Dept. of Parks & Recreation over the Hudson Bay, Dollywood
in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Ft. St. Vrein Eagle Cam in Platteville,
Colorado, to the Santa Catalina Islands and the Washington Department
of Fish & Wildlife in Kent & the Puget Sound to name a
few. Many visit these webcams to witness a Bald Eagle first-hand
and watch these amazing birds resting, feeding and going about
their daily activities. The Kent & Puget Sound Bald Eagle
conservation program is funded through sale of personalized license
plates and private donations much like the program in place in
Florida to fund the critically endangered Florida
Panther conservation efforts. It is our strong hope
that we will continue to preserve habitat and increase populations
of this keystone species as a symbol to the world and our people
of our commitment to wildlife and our ongoing commitment to honor
our national heritage.More on Florida Everglades:
Florida Everglades | Pictures of Florida Everglades | Map of Florida Everglades | Animals Florida Everglades | Marjory Stoneman Douglas | Everglades Endangered Species
The full index of all Florida Everglades Information can be found in Tigerhomes.org Education Center