Bald Eagles

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Interesting Facts

  • Bald eagles are strong swimmers but will struggle in cold water
  • Benjamin Franklin disagreed with the bald eagle being the National Emblem of the United States, he would have preferred the turkey.
  • When an eagle loses a feather on one wing, it will automatically lose one on the other wing too to balance it out.
  • The bald eagle is the only eagle exclusive to north America

The National Emblem of the United States

The bald eagle has been the proud emblem of the U.S. since 1787 when it was adopted. In 1782 a drawing of “supreme power and authority” was presented to the congress. It was accepted but not made official until 1787. The drawing was of a bald eagle with its wings spread wide. In one talon it held a bundle of arrows and the other held an olive branch. The bird had a banner in its beak with the words E pluribus unum. There was a red-and-white striped shield on the chest of the eagle and a crest with thirteen stars surrounded by rays reaching into the clouds.

Not everyone agreed that the eagle should be the national emblem, though. Benjamin Franklin is one example. He thought that the eagle did not represent the country the way the national emblem should. He said that the bald eagle is a lazy thief, stealing its food from other birds rather than fishing for its self. He also described the eagle as a coward as the kingbird, no bigger than a sparrow, attacks the eagle and drives it away. Franklin believed that the turkey would have much better represented the country of America.
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Nests and Babies

Young eagles are called eaglets. They are born light gray and fluffy. They usually start to turn dark brown after a bout 12 weeks but their head feathers don’t turn white until about 4 years old. They usually leave the nest around the same time that their feathers darken. But only about 50% of eaglets survive their first year. Sometimes the older eaglet will kill the younger one, especially if the older eaglet is female as they are larger. The parents will not attempt to stop this if it starts to happen, the reason is unknown.

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The nest of a bald eagle is usually built near the water so that fishing is nearby. It could be built on a cliff, in a tree, or even on the ground. They are enormous (typically 5 feet wide) and since a pair reuses the nest year after year, the nest can grow. They can eventually be over 9 feet in diameter.  The nests are typically home to mother, father, and 2 eaglets.

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