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White head and tail, large hooked yellow beak and brown-black body. Immature eagles (>4-5 years old) have an all brown-black body sometimes with random whitish feathers. Length: 34-43 in. Wingspan: 6-8 ft. Weight: Male 8-9 lbs Female 10-14 lbs.
Found along coasts, rivers and larger lakes. Bald eagles eat fish so they must live around water in large open areas. They nest from Alaska and Canada east to Newfoundland all the way south to the southern US. Its original range reached down to Baja California and the Gulf of Mexico. Bald eagles will migrate to the coasts if local inland water sources freeze.
Bald eagles are primarily fishers; they have excellent eyesight that can spot fish in the water from hundreds of feet in the air. Bald eagles form life long monogamous pair bonds. They build enormous nests 10-150 above the ground on tall coniferous trees and sometimes on cliffs that can reach 7-8 feet across and 12 feet deep. The nest is often returned to and reused by the same pair for numerous years and often added on each year. During courtship they lock talons together at high altitudes and then tumble and somersaulting towards the ground and finally breaking apart at the last minute. When the female is ready to copulate, she makes a head down bowing gesture and the male closes his talons and mounts her. The process is finished once their cloacae meet. Eggs are laid between March and May. A clutch will usually consist of 1-2 bluish-white eggs. The eggs are laid 1-2 days apart so because of this one of the chicks will hatch first. This chick is larger than its nest mate and often dominates over its younger sibling often killing it. This tendency slows down the endangered species recovery since usually only one chick survives to maturity. Parental duties are shared by both parents. Incubation is 34-36 days and the young are fledged at around 72-75 days. Lifespan in the wild is 20-30 years. Flight speed is 35-45 mph. The talon of the hind toe is highly developed in both species, and it is used to pierce vital areas while the prey is held immobile by the front toes. Bald eagles are threatened everywhere except for Alaska, their numbers decimated by habitat loss and pesticides (such as DDT) and contaminants such as lead. (DDT contaminated the eagle’s food and prevents the birds from absorbing calcium, resulting in very thin eggs which often break before they reach maturity). All info from Elmwood Park Zoo website, cited here.