Are Bald Eagles Endangered? 5 Facts About America’s Bird and How Many Are Left

There were up to 100,000 nesting pairs of eagles in the United States when the country’s founding fathers designated the bald eagle as its national symbol in 1782. Bald eagles were common throughout the United States, occurring in all of the continental states. Even though it is the national bird, the eagle has not flourished in the nation since that time.

Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were considered severely endangered in the United States for a long time. The birds were mass-murdered because they were thought to kill livestock and were therefore viewed as deadly predators. Because the bald eagle was so hated, Alaska rewarded hunters for every carcass they handed in from 1917 to 1959 as part of a bounty program. The decline in habitat and food that followed the rise in industrialization and the clearing of forests for agriculture also hampered eagle numbers across the country.

The Eagle’s Brush with Extinction

The Bald Eagle Protection Act, which forbade the killing, taking, catching, or disturbing of bald eagles or their feathers, eggs, or nests without a permission, was approved by Congress in 1940 because the eagle population was in such danger. The act’s infractions carry harsh penalties, which currently range from a $100,000 fine to a year in jail.

The birds did not recover even after the act was passed. The eagle population was severely decimated by the introduction of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in the mid-1940s. The insecticide damaged eagle eggs, making them exceedingly fragile and brittle, which made it more difficult for the population to stabilize. Only 417 eagle nesting pairs remained in the lower 48 states by 1963. The Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1967 designated the bald eagle as an endangered species.

The Bald Eagle’s Recovery

When DDT was outlawed in the US in 1972 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), things looked up for bald eagles. Eagles were remained at risk of lead poisoning even after DDT was banned because they would consume waterfowl or other animals that had been exposed to lead shot. Nonetheless, lead shot was outlawed nationwide by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1987, and compliance had to be completed by 1991. The population started to gradually recover thanks to these adjustments, and by 1996, the eagle’s conservation status had been upgraded from endangered to threatened.

In the United States, bald eagle populations increased to 10,000 nesting pairs in 2007. The bird was completely taken off the federal threatened and endangered species list due to these huge numbers.

And the figures have kept rising. By 2020, there were 71,400 nesting pairs of bald eagles, and their population had increased to 316,700, all because of ongoing protection and conservation initiatives. Even though these figures are below historical population levels, it is encouraging to see that the eagle population is increasing. There are a lot of fascinating facts to discover about these magnificent birds as their population increases. These are five facts about the bird of America.

1. Young Bald Eagles Aren’t “Bald”

Although they have white feathers on their heads that contrast with their black bodies, bald eagles are not truly bald. On the other hand, the heads of hatchlings and immature birds are dark brown in hue rather than white. When the eagles mature, they obtain white head feathers between the ages of 4 and 6.

2. Mom Chooses the Nesting Site

The female eagle chooses the location of the nest, however the male and female collaborate to build the nest. She finds the ideal location, and then the two of them set to work gathering big sticks, moss, grass, or sod to make the nest. Eagles build large nests when it comes to nest building. Some eagle nests weigh up to 2,000 pounds and have a radius of 10 feet. The eagles may return to the same nest in consecutive years if they enjoy the nesting location. They keep enlarging and adding to the original nest every year. Given that bald eagles mate for life, the same pair will always procreate and build nests together.

3. Fish is a Favorite Food (But They Aren’t Picky)

The bald eagle’s main food is fish. As a result, the birds typically reside close to lakes or other places with a lot of fish. These birds, though, are opportunistic and will not pass up other food sources. Aside from carrion like roadkill, eagles will also consume small animals, seabirds, waterfowl, and turtles.

4. They Live a Long Time

In the wild, bald eagles typically live between 15 and 25 years. At the age of 38, the oldest wild banded eagle ever recorded perished in a car accident in 2015. The birds can survive for 30 to 50 years in captivity.

5.  They Can Fly Hundreds of Miles

Many bald eagles will not migrate if food and other resources are plentiful where they are. Some eagles will, nevertheless, move south in the winter in search of more abundant food supplies. Although their daily average flight distance is only about 100 miles, telemetry investigations have shown that migratory eagles can travel up to 225 miles in a single day. Although they can dive up to 100 miles per hour, these birds usually fly between 20 to 40 miles per hour.

Overview of Facts About Bald Eagles

Fact Description
1. Bald eagles aren’t hatched bald Bald eagles develop their distinctive white feathers when they reach maturity at 4-6 years old.
2. Mom chooses the nest site While the male and female work together to build the nest, she chooses the location for the nest.
3. Fish is a favorite food Bald eagles prefer eating fish, but will also eat birds, small mammals, turtles, and even carrion.
4. Bald eagles live a long time The average lifespan in the wild is 15-25 years, though one wild bird was recorded to be 38 years old when it died.
5. They can fly hundreds of miles Bald eagles can fly up to 225 miles per day during migration.