The bald eagle is the United States national bird and is considered to be the king of the birds. In June 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife by the Department of the Interior. About half of the world's bald eagles live in Alaska, and the northwest coast of North America has the largest population of eagles anywhere.
The bald eagle got its name because at one time the word "bald" meant white, and eagles have white heads and tails. It takes up to five years for the head and tail to turn white. Adult eagles also have brown bodies and a hooked, yellow beak. Female eagles are larger than the males, and can have a wingspan up to 90 inches and weigh between 10 and 14 pounds. The eagle's lifespan is about 15 to 20 years and they have 7,000 feathers.
Bald eagles can fly up to 10,000 feet and travel 30 to 35 miles per hour. When soaring in the sky, they use very little wing-flapping, which helps to conserve energy. Although they are the only eagle confined to North America, they do migrate somewhat within this area to available food sources. When migrating long distances the tail and wing feathers spread out to help attain a larger area of flying. The tail also acts as a stabilizer for maneuvers and a brake when landing.
Bird of Prey
Eagles are hunters and are at the top of the food chain. They also are scavengers, often feeding on dead or decaying flesh. Most of their diet is fish, and they tend to live in areas close to lakes, rivers, oceans and other bodies of water. One reason so many eagles live in Alaska is because the salmon population is plentiful and offers plenty of food. The eagles catch the fish in their long talons.
The bald eagle builds the largest nest of any other North American bird, and perches and nests at the top of old, hardwood trees. Baby eagles leave the nest at 11 to 12 weeks for their first flight. Eagles are considered to be adults at five years of age and only one in ten eagles live to become adults. Eagles lay one to three eggs, which take 35 days to hatch. Adult eagles mate for life.