SPECIES SPOTLIGHT : BALD EAGLE
The Bald Eagle is one of the most recognizable and well known birds in the world, and when one catches a glimpse of this amazing bird it’s not hard to see why. I saw my first Bald Eagle in the wild just five years ago and I’ve been enthralled with birds ever since.
In 1782, the United States looked to nature for inspiration, and made the Bald Eagle it’s national bird. It marked the beginning of a tumultuous relationship between the country and this majestic bird. While many folks saw the Bald Eagle as a majestic symbol of freedom, others viewed it as a pest and a nuisance. Bald Eagles were often shot, and the trees where they had nests were cut down.
After World War 2, things got worse for the Bald Eagle. DDT use was widespread across the country, and the Bald Eagle population that was already in decline, plummeted. The pesticide made egg shells thin and frail, drastically reducing the number of hatching chicks. In the 1960’s, only 400 nesting pairs remained in the United States.
Yet the Bald Eagle also represents one of the better success stories for the United States. In 1978 it was put on the endangered species list and received protections. After the banning of DDT, their numbers started growing consistently and now one can find Bald Eagles in most part of the US. Taken off the endangered species list in 2007 these birds are faring very well!
Over the past two years I’ve had the privilege of watch an amazing pair of Bald Eagles in eastern Ohio as they pair bonded and nested. Those moments have proven to be some of the most memorable in my short five years of birding. Their nests are massive, and grow larger each year. A new layer of sticks, brush, and anything else these birds find useful is carefully and strategically placed each new nesting season.
I watched as the Eagles bonded, often comparing it to human rituals. It was wonderful to watch them come together, preen each other, and even talk to one another. Like many other things about this bird, their call is something to behold. Unmistakable, I liken it to hearing a dinosaur. It is both beautiful and haunting at the same time.
There are so many interesting facts and mannerisms about this bird that I could most likely write a book. However, this is a blog, so I’m going to wrap up with a little insight and suggestion. If you have the opportunity to go out and view these birds in the wild (and thankfully these days MANY of you do!) I implore you to do so. Some of my best time spent birding was observing this amazing bird. Learning how they feed, how they nest, their character. Their courtship rituals are among the most amazing in all the world, and watching them soar always brings a sense of wonder and inspiration. If you want to find these Bald Eagles, there are many resources available. But generally, head towards water. These birds love fish (and waterfowl I’ve come to find!) and always nest around rivers and lakes. Their nests are hard to miss, many weighing a ton or more.
This September, Wildside will be going to Alaska on an amazing photo cruise! This is a once in a lifetime kind of trip and if you can make it, I promise you will not be disappointed. Check out the itinerary and be inspired by photos from previous cruises on our website! There’s just about no better place to view and photograph Bald Eagles than in Alaska. What an adventure! As always, be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram posts for daily updates on our current travels and amazing wildlife photos. We hope you love them as much as we love showing them to you! Have a great week folks!
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