Natural Wonders Table of Contents
Natural Wonders is a series consisting of 11 parts.
- Natural Wonders: Quaking Aspen Trees
- Natural Wonders: Monarch Butterflies
- Natural Wonders: Barred Owls
- Natural Wonders: Hot Springs
- Natural Wonders: Grizzly Bears
- Natural Wonders: Marble
- Natural Wonders: Fall Aster
- Natural Wonders: Black Widow Spider
- Natural Wonders: Gray Wolf
- Natural Wonders: Bald Eagles
- Natural Wonders: Arctic Fox
These magestic birds have made a significant recovery in the United States, where they are not only a wonder of nature, but also a symbol of our nation.
Bald eagles have white feathered heads and tails—stark characteristics in contrast to their dark brown feathered bodies and wings. The feet and bill of bald eagles are yellow, and their bills are large and hooked at the tip. Young bald eagles are completely dark in color until they are about five years old, making them more difficult to distinguish from other eagles.
These large birds have a wingspan of up to eight feet, and can weight an average of 10 to 15 pounds. They are carnivores, known as birds of prey, and use their large talons to catch fish and small mammals.
Bald eagles are most abundant in Alaska and Canada. They usually live in coastal areas and near lakes and rivers fish are plentiful. The birds build large stick nests in tree branches and cliffs high above the ground, and a pair of these eagles usually tends to two or three eggs each year.
The birds generally live about 20 to 30 years in the wild, and they do migrate between areas in North America every year. Their range extends from the Mexico border through the United States and Canada, according to the National Wildlife Federation, although the birds will only be seen away from the coastal areas and mountains during the times of their seasonal migrations—between the summer and winter months.
Bald eagles were once hunted for sport and “protection” of fishing grounds, so for many decades the existence of these birds was heavily threatened. DDT pesticides also threatened the bald eagle population. The chemicals would collect in the fish the eagles would eat, and would result in reproduction difficulties for the birds.
“Since DDT use was heavily restricted in 1972, eagle numbers have rebounded significantly and have been aided by reintroduction programs,” according to National Geographic. “The result is a wildlife success story—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has upgraded the birds from endangered to threatened.”