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GALLERIES > BIRDS > FALCONIFORMES > ACCIPITRIDAE > BALD EAGLE [Haliaeetus leucocephalus]


Bald Eagle Image @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Paradise Lake, Magalia, California
GPS: 39.9N, -121.6W, elev=2,719' MAP
Date: December 9, 2012
ID : B13K0937 [4896 x 3264]

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Bald Eagle Picture @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Gray Lodge, Sacramento, California
GPS: 39.3N, -121.8W, elev=69' MAP
Date: December 9, 2012
ID : B13K0931 [4896 x 3264]

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Bald Eagle Picture @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Park, CO
GPS: 39.8N, -104.9W, elev=5,249' MAP
Date: February 15, 2016
ID : B13K0378 [4896 x 3264]

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Bald Eagle Photo @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Potter Marsh, Anchorage, AK
GPS: 61.1N, -149.8W, elev=16' MAP
Date: May 28, 2012
ID : B13K7525 [4896 x 3264]

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Bald Eagle (juvenile)
 
 
Location: Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Park, CO
GPS: 39.8N, -104.9W, elev=5,249' MAP
Date: February 15, 2016
ID : B13K0638 [4896 x 3264]

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Bald Eagle Image @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Bosque del Apache, NM
GPS: 33.8N, -106.9W, elev=4,517' MAP
Date: February 12, 2011
ID : B13K7607 [4896 x 3264]

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Bald Eagle Photo @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Key West, FL
GPS: 24.5N, -81.8W, elev=8' MAP
Date: April 14, 2010
ID : 7C2V6594 [3888 x 2592]

Bald Eagle Photo @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Rose City, MI
GPS: 44.4N, -84.1W, elev=958' MAP
Date: June 13, 2009
ID : 7C2V9382 [3888 x 2592]

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Bald Eagle Photo @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Rose City, MI
GPS: 44.4N, -84.1W, elev=958' MAP
Date: June 13, 2009
ID : 7C2V9367 [3888 x 2592]

Bald Eagle Photo @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Rose City, MI
GPS: 44.4N, -84.1W, elev=958' MAP
Date: June 13, 2009
ID : 7C2V9363 [3888 x 2592]

bird photography

Bald Eagle (juvenile)
 
 
Location: Magee Marsh (Crane Creek), OH
GPS: 41.6N, -83.2W, elev=573' MAP
Date: May 31, 2009
ID : 7C2V8629 [3888 x 2592]

Bald Eagle (juvenile)
 
 
Location: Magee Marsh (Crane Creek), OH
GPS: 41.6N, -83.2W, elev=573' MAP
Date: May 31, 2009
ID : 7C2V8694 [3888 x 2592]

bird photography

Bald Eagle (juvenile)
 
 
Location: Elizabeth Lake, CA
GPS: 34.7N, -118.4W, elev=3,280' MAP
Date: December 7, 2008
ID : 7C2V2505 [3888 x 2592]

Bald Eagle (juvenile)
 
 
Location: Magee Marsh (Crane Creek), OH
GPS: 41.6N, -83.2W, elev=573' MAP
Date: May 3, 2008
ID : 1179 [3888 x 2592]

bird photography

Bald Eagle Picture @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Magee Marsh (Crane Creek), OH
GPS: 41.6N, -83.2W, elev=573' MAP
Date: May 10, 2008
ID : 1000 [3888 x 2592]

Bald Eagle Picture @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Bosque del Apache, NM
GPS: 33.8N, -106.9W, elev=4,517' MAP
Date: December 14, 2007
ID : 8399 [3888 x 2592]

nature photography

Bald Eagle Photo @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Bosque del Apache, NM
GPS: 33.8N, -106.9W, elev=4,517' MAP
Date: December 14, 2007
ID : 8408 [3888 x 2592]

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SPECIES INFO

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey found in North America that is most recognizable as the national bird and symbol of the United States. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle. Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.

The Bald Eagle is a large bird, with a body length of 71–96 centimeters (28–38 in), a wingspan of 168–244 centimeters (66–88 in), and a weight of 3–6.3 kilograms (6.6–14 lb); females are about 25 percent larger than males. The adult Bald Eagle has a brown body with a white head and tail, and bright yellow irises, taloned feet, and a hooked beak; juveniles are completely brown except for the yellow feet. Males and females are identical in plumage coloration. Its diet consists mainly of fish, but it is an opportunistic feeder. It hunts fish by swooping down and snatching the fish out of the water with its talons. It is sexually mature at four years or five years of age. The Bald Eagle builds the largest nest of any North American bird, up to 4 meters (13 ft) deep, 2.5 meters (8 ft) wide, and one tonne (1.1 tons) in weight.

The species was on the brink of extirpation in the continental United States (while flourishing in much of Alaska and Canada) late in the 20th century, but now has a stable population and has been officially removed from the U.S. federal government's list of endangered species. The Bald Eagle was officially reclassified from "Endangered" to "Threatened" on July 12, 1995 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. On July 6, 1999, a proposal was initiated "To Remove the Bald Eagle in the Lower 48 States From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife." It was delisted on June 28, 2007.

The plumage of an adult Bald Eagle is evenly brown with a white head and tail. The tail is moderately long and slightly wedge-shaped. Males and females are identical in plumage coloration, however females display reverse sexual dimorphism and are 25 percent larger than males. The beak, feet, and irises are bright yellow. The legs are unfeathered, and the toes are short and powerful with long talons. The highly developed talon of the hind toe is used to pierce the vital areas of prey while it is held immobile by the front toes. The beak is large and hooked, with a yellow cere.

The plumage of the immature is brown, speckled with white until the fifth (rarely fourth, very rarely third) year, when it reaches sexual maturity. Immature Bald Eagles are distinguishable from the Golden Eagle in that the former has a more protruding head with a larger bill, straighter edged wings which are held flat (not slightly raised) and with a stiffer wing beat, and feathers which do not completely cover the legs. Also, the immature Bald Eagle has more light feathers in the upper arm area, especially around the very top of the arm.

Body length ranges from 71 to 96 cm (28–38 in). Adult females have a wingspan of up to 2.44 m (88 in), while adult males may be as small as 1.68 m (66 in). Adult females weigh approximately 5.8 kg (12.8 lb), males weigh 4.1 kg (9 lb). The size of the bird varies by location; the smallest specimens are those from Florida, where an adult male may barely exceed 2.3 kg (5 lb) and a wingspan of 1.8 m (6 ft). The largest are Alaskan birds, where large females may exceed 7.5 kg (16.5 lb) and have a wingspan of over 2.4 m (8 ft).

This sea eagle gets both its common and scientific names from the distinctive appearance of the adult's head. Bald in the English name is derived from the word piebald, and refers to the white head and tail feathers and their contrast with the darker body. The scientific name is derived from Haliaeetus, New Latin for "sea eagle" (from the Ancient Greek haliaetos), and leucocephalus, Latinized Ancient Greek for "white head," from ?e???? leukos ("white") and ?efa?? kephale ("head").

The Bald Eagle was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work Systema Naturae, under the name Falco leucocephalus.

There are two recognized subspecies of Bald Eagle:

H. l. leucocephalus (Linnaeus, 1766) is the nominate subspecies. It is separated from H. l. alascanus at approximately latitude 38° N, or roughly the latitude of San Francisco. It is found in the southern United States and Baja California.

H. l. washingtoniensis (Audubon, 1827), synonym H. l. alascanus Townsend, 1897, the northern subspecies, is larger than southern nominate leucocephalus. It is found in the northern United States, Canada and Alaska. This subspecies reaches further south than latitude 38° N on the Atlantic Coast, where they occur in the Cape Hatteras area.

The Bald Eagle forms a species pair with the Eurasian White-tailed Eagle. This species pair consists of a white-headed and a tan-headed species of roughly equal size; the White-tailed Eagle also has overall somewhat paler brown body plumage. The pair diverged from other Sea Eagles at the beginning of the Early Miocene (c. 10 Ma BP) at the latest, but possibly as early as the Early/Middle Oligocene, 28 Ma BP, if the most ancient fossil record is correctly assigned to this genus. The two species probably diverged in the North Pacific, as the White-tailed Eagle spread westwards into Eurasia and the Bald Eagle spread eastwards into North America.

The Bald Eagle prefers habitats near seacoasts, rivers, large lakes, and other large bodies of open water with an abundance of fish. Studies have shown a preference for bodies of water with a circumference greater than 11 km (7 miles), and lakes with an area greater than 10 km² (3.8 square miles) are optimal for breeding bald eagles.

The Bald Eagle requires old-growth and mature stands of coniferous or hardwood trees for perching, roosting, and nesting. Selected trees must have good visibility, an open structure, and proximity to prey, but the height or species of tree is not as important as an abundance of comparatively large trees surrounding the body of water. Forests used for nesting should have a canopy cover of less than 60 percent, and as low as 20 percent, and be in close proximity to water.

The Bald Eagle is extremely sensitive to human activity, and occurs most commonly in areas free of human disturbance. It chooses sites more than 1.2 km (0.75 miles) from low-density human disturbance and more than 1.8 km (1.2 miles) from medium- to high-density human disturbance.

The Bald Eagle's natural range covers most of North America, including most of Canada, all of the continental United States, and northern Mexico. It is the only Sea Eagle native to only North America. The bird itself is able to live in most of North America's varied habitats from the bayous of Louisiana to the Sonoran Desert and the eastern deciduous forests of Quebec and New England. Northern birds are migratory, while southern birds are resident, often remaining on their breeding territory all year. The Bald Eagle previously bred throughout much of its range but at its lowest population was largely restricted to Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, northern and eastern Canada, and Florida.

It has occurred as a vagrant twice in Ireland; a juvenile was shot illegally in Fermanagh on January 11, 1973 (misidentified at first as a White-tailed Eagle), and an exhausted juvenile was captured in Kerry on November 15, 1987. Bald Eagles will also congregate in certain locations in winter. From November until February, one to two thousand birds winter in Squamish, British Columbia, about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. The birds primarily gather along the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers, attracted by the salmon spawning in the area.

Once a common sight in much of the continent, the Bald Eagle was severely affected in the mid-20th century by a variety of factors, among them thinning of egg shells, attributed to the use of the pesticide DDT. Bald Eagles, like many birds of prey, were especially affected by DDT due to biomagnification. DDT itself was not lethal to the adult bird, but it interfered with the bird's calcium metabolism, making the bird either sterile or unable to lay healthy eggs. Female eagles laid eggs that were too brittle to withstand the weight of a brooding adult, making it nearly impossible to produce young. By the 1950s there were only 412 nesting pairs in the 48 contiguous states of the US. Other factors in Bald Eagle population reductions were a widespread loss of suitable habitat, and illegal shooting, which was described as "the leading cause of direct mortality in both adult and immature bald eagles," according to a 1978 report in the Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. In 1984, the National Wildlife Federation listed hunting, power line electrocution, and collisions in flight as the leading causes of eagle deaths. Bald Eagle populations have also been negatively affected by oil, lead, and mercury pollution, and by human and predator intrusion.

The species was first protected in the U.S. and Canada by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty, later extended to all of North America. The 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act in the U.S., which protected the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle, prohibited commercial trapping and killing of the birds. The Bald Eagle was declared an endangered species in the U.S. in 1967, and amendments to the 1940 act between 1962 and 1972 further restricted commercial uses and increased penalties for violators. Also in 1972, DDT was banned in the United States. DDT was completely banned in Canada in 1989, though its use had been highly restricted since the late 1970s.

With regulations in place and DDT banned, the eagle population rebounded. The Bald Eagle can be found in growing concentrations throughout the United States and Canada, particularly near large bodies of water. In the early 1980s, the estimated total population was 100,000 birds, with 110,000–115,000 by 1992; the U.S. state with the largest resident population is Alaska, with about 40,000–50,000 birds, with the next highest population being the Canadian province of British Columbia with 20,000–30,000 birds in 1992.

It was officially removed from the U.S. federal government's list of endangered species on July 12, 1995 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, when it was reclassified from "Endangered" to "Threatened." On July 6, 1999, a proposal was initiated "To Remove the Bald Eagle in the Lower 48 States From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife." It was delisted on June 28, 2007. It has also been assigned a risk level of Least Concern category on the IUCN Red List.

Permits are required to keep Bald Eagles in captivity in the United States. Permits are only issued to public educational institutions, and the eagles which they show are permanently injured individuals which cannot be released to the wild. The facilities where eagles are kept must be equipped with adequate caging and facilities, as well as workers experienced in the handling and care of eagles. Bald Eagles cannot legally be kept for falconry in the United States. As a rule, the Bald Eagle is a poor choice for public shows, being timid, prone to becoming highly stressed, and unpredictable in nature. The Bald Eagle can be long-lived in captivity if well cared for, but does not breed well even under the best conditions. In Canada, a license is required to keep Bald Eagles for falconry.

The Bald Eagle is a sacred bird in some North American cultures, and its feathers, like those of the Golden Eagle, are central to many religious and spiritual customs among Native Americans. Eagles are considered spiritual messengers between gods and humans by some cultures. Many pow wow dancers use the eagle claw as part of their regalia as well. Eagle feathers are often used in traditional ceremonies, particularly in the construction of regalia worn and as a part of fans, bustles and head dresses. The Lakota, for instance, give an eagle feather as a symbol of honor to person who achieves a task. In modern times, it may be given on an event such as a graduation from college. The Pawnee considered eagles as symbols of fertility because their nests are built high off the ground and because they fiercely protect their young. The Kwakwaka'wakw scattered eagle down to welcome important guests.

During the Sun Dance, which is practiced by many Plains Indian tribes, the eagle is represented in several ways. The eagle nest is represented by the fork of the lodge where the dance is held. A whistle made from the wing bone of an eagle is used during the course of the dance. Also during the dance, a medicine man may direct his fan, which is made of eagle feathers, to people who seek to be healed. The medicine man touches the fan to the center pole and then to the patient, in order to transmit power from the pole to the patient. The fan is then held up toward the sky, so that the eagle may carry the prayers for the sick to the Creator.

Current eagle feather law stipulates that only individuals of certifiable Native American ancestry enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are legally authorized to obtain Bald or Golden Eagle feathers for religious or spiritual use. The constitutionality of these laws has been questioned by Native American groups on the basis that it violates the First Amendment by affecting ability to practice their religion freely. Additionally, only members of federally recognized tribes are legally allowed to possess eagle feathers, preventing non-federally recognized tribe members from practicing religion freely. The laws have also been criticized on grounds of racial preferences and infringements on tribal sovereignty.



                                     




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