Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bald Eagles: by the numbers

4 seasons in a row, a nesting pair of bald eagles has raised young near our campgrounds.

4 pounds is the Bald Eagle’s maximum lifting weight.

8 feet is the maximum wingspan of Bald Eagles.

35 days from egg laying to egg hatching.

35 MPH is a Bald Eagles maximum level flight speed.

417 is the lowest recorded number of nesting pairs, in 1963.

2000 pounds is the weight of large Bald Eagles nests. 

2007 is the year Bald Eagles were taken off the Threatened list, with nearly 10,000 nesting pairs.

7,000 feathers on a Bald Eagle.

10,000 feet is the maximum altitude of Bald Eagles.

100,000 nesting pairs when the Bald Eagle became our official symbol, being incorporated into The Great Seal of The United States, in 1782

250,000 maximum fine in violation of The Bald Eagle Protection Act. 

Bald Eagles are at the top of the food chain here in the Hocking Hills.  With no natural predators, and humans finally grasping how their pesticides were decimating populations, they have rebounded from being a step away from extinction to thriving in many parts of the country.  Throw in the fact that messing with them at all is a federal crime, and I’d say they’ll do just fine ‘round here. 

They are top caliber hunters.  They have incredibly keen vision, which in comparison, makes human eyesight seem like a joke.  Their huge powerful wings and monstrous razor sharp talons attached to vise-grip feet can kill and carry off a feast large enough for the whole eagle family!    

A Bald Eagles first choice is usually fish, either attacking with talons directly from the air or wading in shallow water.  They also enjoy a nice little duck, goose, or other water fowl from time to time.  They even are known to dine on turtle, snakes, amphibians, small mammals and other critters.  However, fellow carnivores beware, the Bald Eagle is also a pirate, having no qualms about bullying off other predators to thieve their catch.  Plus they are also okay eating carrion, so I guess they keep their options open

Juveniles don’t get the white feathers on their head for several years, and therefore can be harder to spot.  They usually return to within 100 miles of their birth place to settle down and start a nest of their own.   There has been a nesting pair near our campgrounds for a few years now.  Their nest is best seen in early spring before the tree leaves come in.  A good set of binoculars or long lens camera can help with viewing.  

If you come to check them out, be aware, federal law prohibits the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, transport, export or import, of any bald eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg.   "Take" includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb.  Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act.  So basically, feel free to look, just not too closely, and certainly don’t touch! 

Bald Eagle fact sheet
Bald Eagle conservation
Bald Eagle Info

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