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The national emblem of the United States, the Bald Eagle was threatened with extinction in the lower 48 states because of DDT (a type of pesticide) poisoning. Protection under the Endangered Species Act, together with reintroduction programs, brought populations up, and the species was reclassified as Threatened in 1995. By 1999, some were suggesting removing the eagle from the Endangered Species List.
Sexes alike in plumage, female larger.
Immature variably patterned with dark brown and white; takes five years to acquire full adult plumage. White not restricted to well defined areas, but appearing scattered throughout body, usually with brown mottling in same area. White in wings primarily in linings and not flight feathers. Bill and cere blackish gray. Eyes dark brown. Feet and lower legs yellow.
Call high-pitched whistling or piping.
Breeds near water from Alaska throughout Canada and in scattered localities in nearly all of the United States. Also a small number in Mexico.
Winters in coastal Alaska and Canada, and throughout lower 48 states.
Opportunistic feeder, but prefers fish. Eats large birds, mammals, and carrion.
Gets food by direct capture, scavenging, and stealing prey from other eagles or other birds and mammals. Will wade in water to catch fish.
Engages in spectacular flight displays. In the Cartwheel Display, a courting pair flies to high altitude, locks feet together, and then tumbles and cartwheels toward the ground, breaking off at the last moment.
Large nest of sticks. Lined with finer woody materials. Reused over many years. Placed in large tree, often the largest in the area. Rarely nests on ground or cliff.
Dull white, usually without markings.
Clutch SizeUsually 2 eggs. Range: 1-3.
Condition at Hatching
Capable of limited motion. Covered with light gray down and with eyes open.
Preservation efforts brought populations in the lower 48 states back from near exinction in the mid-20th century. Although the Bald Eagle was proposed for removal from the Endangered species List in 1999, populations in the lower 48 states remain relatively low. Humans are the most important source of mortality.
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