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Old Feb 5, 2005, 6:12 PM   #1
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We had Bald Eagle days near us this past weekend and I was able to take these pictures of an eagle who was there for educational purposes. She is just turning 5 years old, so she still has mottling on her body.

Here are some things we learned from the naturalist who came down from the National Eagle Center in MN:

Did you know that bald eagles get as big as they'll be when they are just 12 weeks old???? We also learned that technology is showing that they don't necessarily mate for life, as was previously thought. One female found a new mate 8 hours after her mate was hit by a plane in St. Paul, MN. Although they return to their same nesting area each year, they don't feel restricted to the mate they had the year before.

Eagle nests can be 12 feet wide and up to 15 feet deep because they keep adding on or start a new nest. These nests can weigh up to 2000 pounds!!

Eagles have NO SENSE OF SMELL!!! They rely almost entirely on their eyesight which is about 8 times better than ours. Their retinas have about 100 times the surface area compared to ours...like 100X the number of pixels in a picture! Nests are most commonly found in white pines, but in our area, they are also common in cottonwood trees.

Juvenile eagle feathers are actually longer and more wide than adult eagles. She described this phenomenon as "training wheels" for young eagles to help them fly. They don't need the extra help when they are full grown.

She also said it is illegal to have an eagle feather in your possession (which I knew) and that they are required by law to send all eagle feathers from their eagle to a feather repository out west. Interestingly, she said you can not have in your possession any feather from a migrating bird, including robins, blue jays, etc. because of some rule or law. No one in our group knew that.

Size varies depending on latitude. Eagles in Wisconsin are 8 - 12 pounds, with females 2 pounds heavier as a general rule. Eagles from Alaska, are more like 15-16 pounds for females and 13-14 for males. In Florida, the males are as small as 6 pounds and females are 8 pounds. This reminds me a lot of the deer sizes if you think about it!

Anyway, for those who love birds, I though you might like the info...

Enjoy the pix...

:-)
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Old Feb 5, 2005, 6:12 PM   #2
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another...
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Old Feb 5, 2005, 6:14 PM   #3
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Old Feb 5, 2005, 7:35 PM   #4
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What a double treat.
Beautiful and educational.

I love it. Thanks

smac
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Old Feb 5, 2005, 8:15 PM   #5
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very interesting and nice photos, I like the second one best. It has that traditional American eagle look about it.:-)
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Old Feb 5, 2005, 8:58 PM   #6
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Nice pictures.

You did a really good job on the exposures.
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Old Feb 6, 2005, 1:17 AM   #7
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That was a great read, thanks for the information. Some I knew but most I didn't so it was interesting. I wonder if vultures have a sense of smell. It would be advantageous if they didn't I'd say. Must have been a blast taking those photos too.

Cheers
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Old Feb 6, 2005, 9:30 AM   #8
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Found this on the internet...

Turkey vultures have an extraordinary sense of smell. They have been known to be able to smell carrion from over a mile away which is very unique in the bird world. The turkey vulture has the largest olfactory (smelling) system of all birds.

Vultures prefer meat as fresh as possible and won't eat extremely rotted carcasses. They can smell carrion only 12-24 hours old.

So the turkey vulture is at the opposite end of the spectrum from eagles, who can spot movement at more than a mile, and turkey vultures that need to smell to find their food.



The naturalist said that the American Kestrels can find mice because as the miceget nervous, they pee and track the pee behind them, and Kestrels can see an ultraviolet trail where the pee is...the more intense the trail, the closer the mouse is.






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Old Feb 6, 2005, 10:12 AM   #9
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Hi Wisconsingirl,

Very good img. of Bald Eagle and appreciate for your write-up.

I got some infm. from Britanica about Bald Eagle n i reproduce below:

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus), bird ofthe family Accipitridae, the only eagle solely native toNorth America. Since 1782 the bald eagle has been the national bird of the United States. It is a sea eagle (Haliaeetus) that commonly occurs inland, along rivers and large lakes. The adult male bald eagle is about 90 cm (36 inches) long and has a wingspan of 2 m (6.5 feet). Females, which grow somewhat larger than males, may reach 108 cm (43 inches) in length and have a wingspan of 2.5 m (8 feet). The bald eagle is dark brown in colour with a white head and tail. The bird is not actually bald; its name derives from the conspicuous appearance of its white-feathered head. The beak, eyes, and feet are yellow.

The bald eagle's nest is a large platform of sticks atop a large, isolated tree or pinnacle of rock within easy flight of a sea, lake, or stream. The female lays two or three eggs that hatch in 35 days, and both parents share in the incubation and feeding of the young. The immature birds are brown with whitish tail and wing linings, but the pure white head and tail plumage do not appear until the birds are four or five years old. Bald eagles pluck fish out of the water with their talons, and sometimes theyfollow seabirds as a means of locating fish. Bald eagles also rob ospreys of their fish catches. Besides live fish, bald eagles prey on other birds, small mammals, snakes, turtles, and crabs, and they readily eat carrion.

Bald eagles numbered in the tens of thousands when they were declared the American national bird in 1782, but their numbers steadily declined over the next two centuries owing to human activities and persecution. The birds were hunted, both for sport and because they were thought to menace livestock. In Alaska, where eagles perched on fish traps and scared away the salmon (an annoyance eventually overcome by fitting the traps with devices to discourage perching), Alaskan bounty hunters killed more than 100,000 eagles in the period 1917–52. The U.S. government made it illegal to kill bald eagles (with Alaska exempted) in the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940, butthe birds' numbers continued to decline, primarily because of the effects of the pesticide DDT, which came into widespread agricultural use after World War II. This pesticide accumulated inthe birds' tissues and interfered with the formation of the shells of their eggs; the thin, weak shells laid by heavily contaminatedbirds were easily broken, and fewer young were produced. By the early 1960s, the number of bald eagles in the conterminous United States had dropped to fewer than 450 nesting pairs.

In 1972 the use of DDT was banned in the United States, and in 1978 the U.S. government declared the bald eagle an endangered species in all but a few of the northernmost states. By the late 1980s, these measures had enabled the birds to replenish their numbers in the wild. The bald eagle was reclassified from endangered to threatened status in 1995, by which time there were an estimated 4,500 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. By 2000, the population had increased to more than 6,300 pairs, and the species was being considered for removal from the Endangered Species List.

Some authorities distinguish two subspecies of bald eagle: a northern one (H. l. alascanus), which inhabits the area from Maine to the Pacific Northwest and is widespread in Alaska and nearby regions of Canada; and the southern bald eagle (H. l. leucocephalus), which occurs in most portions of the continentalU.S. with the largest populations residing in Florida.


TKS.
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Old Feb 6, 2005, 8:54 PM   #10
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First I wanted to say that these are nice pictures. I have spent many a day photographing bald eagles (including today and yesterday) and I like these. This bird is probably almost 4 years old, as that is how long it takes to get their full "white" coloration.

I wanted to add that the act which prevents you from taking even a feather of a migrating bird is.... "The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918" And yes, that is exactly true: you can't take even a feather. There are very few exemptions. It was put into place to stop the trade in feathers for womans hats. Being as I live (and bird watch) in the town which got this trade stopped and the law enacted I could go on. But only if asked.

More info on the law can be found here:
http://laws.fws.gov/lawsdigest/migtrea.html

And more here about the history:
http://americanhistory.si.edu/feather/

Just this past week we had a case where someone pleaded guilty of shooting (and killing) a Bald Eagle. He lost his hunting license and was fined several thousand dollars (not nearly the potential fine, which maxes around $100,000) but he did admit he did it and it was not intentional (he was legally hunting and shot before confirming what he was shooting.)

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