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Bald Eagle

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Is the Bald Eagle right for you?

Species group:

Other common names:

Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

The basics:
The national bird of the United States, the Bald Eagle, is a handsome fish-eating bird of prey that has become one of the famous success stories of conservation. The population collapsed as a result of DDT, a pesticide that contaminated its prey and made it impossible for the birds to reproduce. After the chemical was banned, the population eventually came soaring back. Although it is no longer listed as an endangered species, it enjoys significant legal protection.

Because of the licensing and expertise required to be a responsible owner of a bird of prey, the following information is offered only as a hint of what you will need to learn to work with Bald Eagles. There is no substitute for hands-on training, which we strongly recommend that you pursue before trying to acquire any bird of prey.

Appearance:
The adult Bald Eagle is unmistakable-- a dark eagle with a white head and white tail. However, they don't reach their full adult plumage until age four, so expect to see some considerably more blotchy birds along the way to adulthood.. Females tend to run heavier and larger than males.

Weight:
Female: 5,244 grams (11.5 lbs.)
Male: 4,123 grams (9 lbs.)

Average size:
79 centimeters (31 in.)

Lifespan:
20 - 48 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Bald Eagle loves to fish, but it will also take waterfowl like coots as well as carrion. The bird has something of a reputation for piracy, since it is notorious for snatching food items from other Eagles as well as Ospreys.

Although a fish-eater is not necessarily the first bird you might think of for a falconry project, the Bald Eagle has proved to be quite useful in the right hands. For instance, they have been trained to drive away Canada Geese, a nuisance species that can sometimes gather in large flocks and create a safety hazard near airports.

Housing:
Bald Eagles are overall hardy birds, but all Eagles may be susceptible to mosquito-borne West Nile Virus. Never allow standing water to collect near the aviary.

Diet:
The Bald Eagle's diet is high in fish and waterfowl. They also need clean water changed at least daily.

Written by Elaine Radford

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