The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) inhabits an impressive native range that includes most of Canada and Alaska, the United States and northern Mexico. The wide spread use of the pesticide DDT nearly destroyed Maine’s Bald Eagle population. In 1965 state wildlife biologists estimate that only half a dozen nesting pairs of Bald Eagles existed in the entire state of Maine. Fortunately, large scale conservation efforts have brought Bald Eagle populations back form the point of extinction and today, Maine is home to over 600 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles.
Bald Eagles are not “bald” as the name implies. Instead both the male and female have white feather plumed heads and tails that provide a stark contrast to their mainly brown feathered bodies. Classified as a bird of prey or raptor, Bald Eagles have keen vision for finding food, sharp talons for holding food, and a strong curved beak for tearing flesh. Bald Eagles feed primarily on fish but also consumes birds and small animals. Bald Eagles have also been known to be opportunistic, eating carrion such as road kill.
Bald Eagles nest in large old-growth trees located in close proximity to open bodies of water possessing an abundant food source. Nests or “aeries” are the largest of any avian species, averaging 10 ft deep, 6 ft wide and weighing almost a ton. The Bald Eagle breeding season in Maine runs from February 1 through August 15. Throughout this time, mating pairs will frequently engage in impressive courtship flights. During the courting flight, the two Bald Eagles will fly high into the sky, lock talons and cartwheel spin as they fall toward the ground, breaking apart at the last possible second. Bald eagles have lifetime mates usually looking for a new mate only if its companion dies. Females lay 1-3 eggs that hatch in approximately 35 days. After the laying of eggs, both parents take turns hunting for food, incubating eggs and feeding the eaglets. Eaglets fledge at the age of 12 weeks. Bald eagles tend to build nests, when possible away from human activity. When disturbed, Bald Eagles have been known to abandon their nest.
Wildlife Quiz Questions:
- What is the range of the Bald Eagle?
- What pesticide nearly destroyed Maine’s Bald Eagle population?
- How many nesting pairs of Bald Eagles currently live in Maine?
- What do Bald Eagles eat?
- When is the Bald Eagle breeding season in Maine?
- How many eggs do female Bald Eagles typically lay?
- How long does it take for Bald Eagle eggs to hatch?
- How long after hatching does it take for eaglets to fledge?
Wildlife Quiz Answers:
- The Bald Eagle inhabits an impressive native range that includes most of Canada and Alaska, the United States and northern Mexico.
- The wide spread use of the pesticide DDT nearly destroyed Maine’s Bald Eagle population.
- Maine is home to over 600 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles.
- Bald Eagles feed primarily on fish but also consumes birds and small animals.
- The Bald Eagle breeding season in Maine runs from February 1 through August 15.
- Female Bald Eagles typically lay 1-3 eggs.
- Bald Eagle eggs hatch in approximately 35 days.
- Eaglets fledge at the age of 12 weeks.