The Bald Eagle

Uploaded by frederickding on 29.09.2008

The bald eagle...
one of the world's most fascinating birds of prey...
Most recognized as the national bird and symbol
of the United States,
it is indeed one of Nature's Wonders.
Its name may fool you.
This species, once on the brink of extirpation,
now inhabits most of North America.
Commonly found in wooded areas
near bodies of water,
the bald eagle patiently waits for prey.
It feeds on fish,
but can eat any meat it finds.
Man has had adverse effects on their population,
but slowly and surely, it has been recovering.
As the top predator in its food chain,
the bald eagle helps
to control the population of other predators,
and maintain balance in its ecosystem.
The bald eagle is a warm-blooded vertebrate
of the order of hawks and eagles.
The genus to which it belongs
is comprised of birds of prey,
characterized by long wings.
The name of its species comes from
the Greek word for "white head".
The bald eagle is found
throughout all of the continental United States,
Northern Mexico, and most of Canada.
Eagles in frigid Northern areas
migrate to unfrozen bodies of water during the winter,
whereas those in more temperate climates
have no need for migration.
Since fish comprise a major part of the bald eagle's diet,
it lives close to bodies of water.
However, it also requires forested areas
for perching and nesting,
preferably with mature trees and low canopy cover.
When waiting for prey on tall trees,
it uses its superior eyesight to spot targets.
The bald eagle has large wings,
which aid it in hunting
and which assist it in attacking its prey.
Its powerful talons are also crucial
to its hunting process,
enabling the eagle to grab the fish out of the water.
However, if the fish is too heavy,
the eagle may be dragged into the water
and could die of hypothermia.
Most of the bald eagle's diet consists of fish,
but it can eat almost anything.
Other prey can include mammals,
such as rabbits and deer,
or small birds like ducks and geese.
Rare attacks on great blue herons and swans
have also been recorded.
During the winter, when food is not as abundant,
the bald eagle acts as a scavenger,
feeding on carcasses as large as that of a whale.
Occasionally, the bald eagle may also scavenge
food remnants from camp sites and garbage dumps.
An aggressive predator, the bald eagle competes with,
and sometimes displaces,
other carnivores high up in the food chain,
such as coyotes and foxes.
Bald eagles reach sexual maturity
at the age of four or five,
when they return to their birthplace
to look for a mate.
They usually mate for life,
unless the other dies,
or if multiple breeding attempts are unsuccessful.
Mating and courtship consist of
elaborate calls and flight displays
On average, two eggs are produced each year,
with the male and female alternately incubating the eggs
while the other hunts for food.
Unfortunately, it is rare for all of the chicks to survive.
Nature's Wonders will continue after these messages...