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A Symbol of Greatness – The Elegant Bald Eagle!

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The family of raptors, also known as birds of prey, are some of the coolest animals on the planet…amazing senses, the ability of flight, and unique vocalizations are just a few of the traits this group are known for. So our current Animal of the Week is indeed a raptor, and one of the most famous of them all. The symbol of America, that’s right Defenders – it’s the Bald Eagle! Contrary to their name, these majestic birds are not actually bald, but instead the name comes from an older meaning of “white headed” due to the white plumage around their head and tails. All bald eagles have the same coloration, but they are sexually dimorphic in the sense that females are roughly 25% larger than males. The Bald Eagle is also somewhat of a conservation success story – over the last few decades their population numbers have recovered, and the species has slowly moved off of the endangered and threatened species lists.

Are Eagles intelligent?

While raptors are not at the very top of the line for bird intelligence, as a whole they are definitely some of the smarter animals, and extremely suited to be the hunting killing machines that they are. They do not generally have the brains and thought process for things humans need “intelligence” for – such as reading and writing – however their intelligence is correlated to their strong ability to hunt and capture prey, courting, and raising offspring to be ready on their own and continue the cycle.

What is a Bald Eagle nest called?

Of all the birds in North America, the Bald Eagle actually builds the largest nest perfect for caring for their young. This nest is known as an “aerie”, and can have dimensions as big as 8 feet wide by 13 feet deep. Typically, bald eagles prefer to build their nests in forested areas, near lakes or rivers or some water source nearby.

How long do Bald Eagles live?

Some people are surprised to hear that birds tend to have very long lifespans. That’s right – before you get that parrot, make sure you know the details because that new companion could be by your side for 30+ years! In the wild, if a bald eagle reaches adulthood then they can usually live to 20-25 years on average. However, almost 4 out of every 5 eagles die before 5 years because of other predators and hazards in their environment. Captivity is a different story though, as a controlled environment and steady nutritious diet can see these birds living more than 40 years on average.

How much can an eagle carry?

A trait that sets raptors apart from other carnivorous birds, is the fact that they use their talons to pick up their prey, swooping down from the skies. So that often has us wondering, exactly how strong are these birds? Most estimates but the lifting power of a bald eagle at 4-5 pounds, perfect for rabbits and fish that make up a lot of their diet. However, there is more to this equation than just pure strength and wingsize – their airspeed can greatly affect how much a raptor can pick up. If the bald eagle swoops down at 20/30 miles an hour, the load it can carry away is much more than if it stopped on the ground to catch something, and then took off again.

How far can an eagle see?

Just as humans need strong hand-eye coordination for a variety of activities, the talon-eye coordination a raptor needs is crucial to its survival. Sight is one of the bald eagles strongest senses, and while they are diurnal (active during the day), they have still been seen bringing food back at night so their night vision is strong as well. However during their active hunting hours, it’s reported that an eagle in flight can see a rabbit from even 2 miles away!

Bald eagle in a nosedive