Apr 5th, 2012
Author: Joe Gee
The American Bald Eagle is a big fierce looking bird. It’s name in Latin means “the sea eagle with a white head”. It is the national symbol of the United States of America. Benjamin Franklin had recommended that the national symbol be the Wild Turkey, because the American Bald Eagle was “a bird of bad moral character”, but he was outvoted. Today it is seen on many things in the United States, such as money, seals, and other patriotic symbols.
The American Bald Eagle commonly lives forty-five to fifty years in enslavement and twenty-five years in the wild. It is one of the biggest flying birds seen in the United States. It stands between 30.4 and 36.4 inches tall, or about as high as an average office desk. It has a five and a half to eight foot wing span. That’s about as long as a gigantic dining room table. The head of the bird is white, the body of the bird is black, and the tail is white. The feet are a dull orange and its beak is yellow.
Like many raptors it has an unusual trait that is labeled as “reversed sexual dimorphism”. This means that the female American Bald Eagle is oftentimes bigger than the male. In most species, the male is much larger than the female.
This raptor is covered in large harsh feathers. The name “American Bald Eagle” doesn’t mean the bird is really bald. From a way away, it appears bald because of the contrast of the light and dark feathers. To the early settlers in the United States, the word bald intended white, not hairless. Because of its appearance, its label came to be the American Bald Eagle. It doesn’t get its amazing colors until four to five years of age. Before that, the immature American Bald Eagle appears to have a brown head and tail with a yellow beak. The American Bald Eagle has a body that is midway between sleek and bulky.
What is fascinating about the American Bald Eagle to me is that the Bald Eagle’s wing span can reach eight feet. I find this remarkable because that is taller than most people.
Mature American Bald Eagle
The American Bald Eagle achieves maturity between four and six years of age. It picks one mate for its whole life. The climate it lives in affects its reproduction. The American Bald Eagle tends to reproduce during the winter in the south, and during the spring in the north. It raises its family in large nests that are typically built near lake. It may nest by itself or in an area where many other American Bald Eagle live also. This bird of prey usually nests in tall live pine foliage that are higher than the things that surround them. Occasionally the American Bald Eagle may build its nest on the ground if there is nothing nearby to endanger them. The female eagle usually builds most of the nests. They are obsessed with working on their nests. The nests are made of natural materials such as sticks, mud and pieces of grass and can weighing up to one ton. The nests are sometimes larger than six feet in width. There was one eagle nest found in Ohio that was nine feet wide, 20 feet deep, and weighed more than two tons.
Unfortunately, the nest was destroyed when the tree it was built in fell to the ground in 1925. Nests are often used year after year. Some nests are built so well that they last for ten to twenty years even though they are unguarded from the weather.