The Bald Eagle-Haliaeetus Leucocephalus-Lord of The Skies-Rider of The Winds-Majestic-Symbol of Power, Strength, and Freedom. What more could you ask for to represent the United States of America?
The Bald Eagle was offically declared our national symbol in 1782. It has since then come to be the living symbol of the United States' freedoms. It's imagery and symbolisms has played an important part in the American arts, folklore, music, and architecture. It is on every dollr bill made. America can be proud to have the Bald Eagle as her representative.
The Bald Eagle has a presence at sometime or another during the year in all the states except Hawaii. Pennsylvania alone has forty-one recorded nests. I think that covers our country very well.
The bald eagle is not really bald. It just looks that way from a distance because of it's bright white feathers on it's head. The term "bald" comes from a English version "balde" meaning white.
Actually it is born without it's head feathers. Eagle young lack the white head and tail feathers which take four to five years to get. In the mean time their body is mottled with white feathers. At maturity they gain the white head and tail feathers while their beak then turns yellow.
An eagle may fly hundreds of miles a day at 50 miles per hour, soaring at 14,000 feet. He doesn't even have to flap his wings to do this. I think that is totally awesome.
Their eyesight is something else. An eagle can spot a rabbit a mile away and immediately plunge at 85 miles an hour to seize it up for dinner. Eagles have two eyelids. One is for sleeping. The other is for blinking. The inner eyelid is tranlucent allowing the eagle to see during mid-blink. It cleans the dirt and dust from the cornea area.The eagles eye is almost as large as a human eye. The sharpness is at least 6 times that of a human with 20/20 vision. The eye does not move so the eagle must turn his head. Still in all with that kind of vision he doesn't miss very much.
The wing span can be from 6 1/2 to 8 feet. The female has the larger wing span. To control their flight eagles can manipulate the shape and size of their wings. They can control the angle at which wings and individual feathers meet the wind. While soaring the wings can be fanned for more uplift or pulled back towards the body to begin a dive.
The tail is used for flight and maneuvering. The feathers are spread to get the largest surface area for the full effect of the thermals and updrafts. It also acts as the braking system when the eagle is going to land. The tail feathers help to stabilize when a dive is about to happen.
A full grown eagle carries around about 7,000 feathers. And he uses everyone of them. Some are for flight. Some are for warmth. There are twelve feathers in it's tail. It's skeleton weighs about one half pound. The bones are hollow with braces inside to keep them from breaking easily. With everything thrown together their average weight runs about thirteen pounds. The female is somewhat larger and heavier than the male.
Bald eagles mate for life. They are monogamous and remain faithful until death. A pair will renew their bond in aerial courtship with diving and somersaulting through the air with talons locked together using natural winds and thermal updrafts. They build nests that can be twelve feet across and weigh a ton. A mating pair will return to the same nest in the spring, adding to the nest, and lay two eggs which hatch in May. The eggs take about thirty-five days to hatch. Both eagle parent share in the brooding duties(hunting,egg incubation,nest watch and eaglet brooding)until the young are strong enough to fly. Eaglets are adult size and can fly at 12 weeks of age. About 50% of eaglets hatched survive the first year. Part of this is due to the fact that the stronger eaglet will often kill and eat the weaker sibling.
|An eagle's beak is a strong weapon. It's more complex than it appears. The hooked tip is used for tearing. The upper half which is sharp enough to slice the toughest of skin overlaps the lower half creating scissors. This outstanding tool is also delicate enough to groom it's mate or feed the young it's many meals.|
|The Bald Eagle is basically a clumsy diurnal hunter and fisher. It is awake and stalking it's prey during daylight hours. It relies heavily on dead or injured fish. The eagle will wait for fish to come to spawn in the shallow waters where the hunting is easier. The bald eagle will steal from the osprey by harassing it in the air until the osprey drops the prey. The eagle will then snatch it up before it hits the water.|
|Bald Eagles also eat small animals such as ducks,muskrats,snakes and coots. Salmon is one of it's favorite fish to eat. When an eagle swoops down to catch a fish there is about a 1,000 pounds of pressure in the grip per square inch per foot. The eagle can only lift half of it's weight. Bald Eagles can swim to shore with a heavy fish using their strong wings as paddles.They can drown if the fish weighs too much.|
|Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching? Long before it breaks the eagle will fly to some spot high and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits the eagle sets it's wings so the winds will pick the eagle up and lift it above the storm. While the storm is raging on, the eagle is soaring above it.|
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