AMERICAN BALD EAGLES
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE AMERICAN BALD EAGLE
Species: H. leucocephalus
Canyon of the Eagles had its’ first sighting of the season of a mature American Bald Eagle on Sunday, August 1, 2021. A resort staffer spotted the eagle but couldn’t believe his eyes. He quickly grabbed his binoculars to see the prominent white head. He saw the matching white tail feathers as it flew away. This sighting comes months earlier than usual.
Birdwatchers and nature lovers regularly visit the park and surrounding areas to see the majestic bird where they return typically October through March during the nesting season.
The bald eagle is a bird of prey found in North America found living near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.
The bald eagle is an opportunistic feeder which eats mainly fish, by swooping down and snatching them from the water with its talons. Did you know eagles can actually swim? If an eagle has caught a fish too large to pickup it will hold its’ catch with its’ talons and flap its’ wings (like a breast stroke) to bring it to shore.
It builds the largest nest of any North American bird and the largest tree nests ever recorded for any animal species. On average, bald eagles build nest that are four to ten feet in diameter and two to eight feet deep. They reuse and add to their nest each year adding one to two feet of height. The nest size is based on how much the tree can hold.
Their average lifespan in the wild is 15-20 years (longer in captivity). They mate for life with a less than 5% “divorce” rate which is typically because they cannot reproduce as a pair. They reach maturity at age of four to five years and take a mate.
Bald eagles are not actually bald; the name came from an outdated meaning that refers to “white headed”. Male and female adults look the same except females are about 25 percent larger than males. Their large hooked beak, legs, and iris of their eyes are yellow.
Their distance vision is 3-4 times better than humans. They can’t smell but have a perfect sense of taste preventing them from eating spoiled food. Their grip strength is ten time stronger than the average human.
By 1960 the eagle was on the brink of extinction in the contiguous United States. Due to conservation efforts the populations has since recovered, and in 2007 eagles were removed from the endangered species list.
If you sight an eagle, or any bird, while at the nature park please report your sighting online at ebird.org, a global database of bird sightings. Your observations will help support birders, researchers, and conservationists worldwide.
We welcome you to document all wildlife you see during your stay on the bulletin board opposite the Guest Service office.