American Bald Eagles, Clash of The Siblings

Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagle By Yathin S. Krishnappa

For lots of birds, the way you tell the male from the female is that females’ colors are usually not as attention-getting as males. But the way you tell a female Bald Eagle from male Bald Eagle is that females are usually 25% larger.

Identifying Them:

American Bald Eagles are one of the largest Raptors / birds of prey in North America. Bald Eagles are about 30-40 inches tall. Their wingspan is the part that continues to amaze me and varies from 1.8 – 2.3 meters.

For lots of birds, the way you tell the male from the female is that females’ colors are usually not as attention-getting as males. But the way you tell a female Bald Eagle from male Bald Eagle is that females are usually 25% larger.

Habitat:

Bald Eagles live all over the United States, but the Bald Eagles that live in the northern part of the US are migratory, while the southern Bald Eagles stay there year round.
Bald Eagles usually appear during their breeding season around lakes, rivers, seacoasts, marshes and other wetlands.

Behavior:

Bald Eagles are fast and amazing fliers and will reach 40 miles per hour when gliding, but when diving, they can reach up to 99 miles per hour. If in the winter the water is frozen, they will skate around and try to poke holes in the ice or try to find a less icy part to catch fish. Bald Eagles make a high-pitched screech-like noise when calling for their mate or scaring off predators from their nest. The female and male will start to get very social and may rub up against one another, this means that they are about to have their eggs.

Nesting and Nestling:

You may find them nesting upon a tree a little bit low to the ground in the middle of a mangrove swamp, but mostly they will like to nest higher up, which would be about 16-38 meters. The male will add twigs and other things to the nest throughout the year until they start to have their eggs.

Their nest can weigh a ton and be 8 whole feet across. Mating season goes from September through April depending on where they live. 5-10 days go by since they have mated and the female will lay her first eggs, there tends to be about 1-3 dull white eggs. The female and male take turns sitting on and incubating the eggs, while the other mate catches food. They incubate them for about 35 days (a month).

When the eggs hatch, the male or female will tear off a little meat and starts feeding it to their young. Bald Eagle nestlings also have to go through a hard part in life that their parents may not even know about called sibling rivalry. I first learned about it by watching a documentary about Bald Eagles and you can find more about sibling rivalry among Bald Eagles at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/american-eagle/video-sibling-rivalry/4252/

Human children have this problem in almost every family, where the older child can and will pick on his or hers younger sibling. It may seem strange because for birds, the age difference is usually only a day or two apart.

Prey:

Like Great Horned Owls, they have a large amount of species that they prey upon, like fish (catfish, salmon, herring and shad), birds (often waterfowl), rodents (often mice and bunnies). As most raptors do, they dive and grab a fish or waterfowl instantly and carry it back to their nest, but another Bald Eagle or raptor may see it and try to get it. Lots of times, Bald Eagles do not want to have to swoop down and grab an animal so they will go up to an Osprey or Turkey Vulture that has caught something and has its prey clutched in his or hers talons and will harass the bird until it drops it and the Bald Eagle behind him (the harasser) will catch the prey in mid air. A few months ago, I was biking and saw with the corner of my eye a bald eagle. I stopped to find it fishing, it was standing at the edge of a small island in the middle of a river and sticking its beak in the water. Since this river didn’t have much fish, they had to stand there and wait for a fish instead of diving.

Extinction:

Forty years ago, these amazing raptors were on the edge of extinction. Bald Eagles don’t have many predators other than humans. People used to put the pesticide called DDT which affected the fish and prey that Bald Eagles need to survive, so when they eat them it would make them very ill, and their eggs would be impossible to hatch and would eventually kill them. But then the government put them under the Endangered Species Act and banned the use of the pesticide, DDT. They have made a recovery and now many more Bald Eagles roam America.

Watch http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/american-eagle/video-full-episode/4349/ to see a documentary of the amazing Bald Eagle.

A special thanks to Yathin S. Krishnappa for the photo of the Bald Eagle.

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About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
This entry was posted in Bird Watching, Endangered Birds, nonfiction, Raptors and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to American Bald Eagles, Clash of The Siblings

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Check your sources, but I don’t think many, if any, put DDT in bullets to shoot eagles. Eagles got the stuff by eating especially fish that had accumulated some DDT from runoff from fields and forests.

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    This is remarkable work, this blog. Impressive that you have done so much work on birds at your age. Thank you.

    • faithelise says:

      Thank you, I love writing about birds. I see that you know a lot about DDT and I read your article about the Bald Eagle recovering from the pesticide. Thanks for the information!

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