bald eagle

a large, fish-eating eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, of the U.S. and Canada, having dark golden-brown back and wings, and white plumage on the head and tail in the adult: some recently endangered populations are now recovering.
[1680-90, Amer.]

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Species of sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that occurs inland along rivers and large lakes.

Strikingly handsome, it is the only eagle native solely to North America, and it has been the U.S. national bird since 1782. The adult, about 40 in. (1 m) long with a wingspan of 6.5 ft (2 m), is dark brown with white head and tail and yellow beak, eyes, and feet. Bald eagles snatch fish at the water surface, rob osprey of fish, and eat carrion. They nest in lone trees, often on river islands. Though still protected in the U.S., the bald eagle is no longer considered an endangered species.

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Alexander Sprunt, IV

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bird
 the only eagle solely native to North America, and the national bird of the United States. (United States)

      The bald eagle is actually a sea eagle (Haliaeetus species) that commonly occurs inland along rivers and large lakes. The adult male is about 90 cm (36 inches) long and has a wingspan of 2 metres (6.6 feet). Females, which grow somewhat larger than males, may reach 108 cm (43 inches) in length and have a wingspan of 2.5 metres (8 feet). Both sexes are dark brown, 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 built atop a large, isolated tree or pinnacle of rock located within easy flight of water. Nests are usually about 1.5 metres (5 feet) wide, but old nests can be almost twice this size. The two or three eggs laid within take slightly longer than a month to hatch. 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 to five years old.

 Bald eagles pluck fish out of the water with their talons, and sometimes they follow seabirds as a means of locating fish (see the video—>). Bald eagles also rob ospreys (osprey) of their fish. Besides live fish, bald eagles also prey on other birds, small mammals, snakes, turtles, and crabs, and they readily eat carrion.

      Bald eagles may have numbered in the hundreds 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 for sport, for bounties offered by state and federal governments, 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's Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 made it illegal to kill bald eagles (Alaska was exempt), but the 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 in the birds' tissues and interfered with the formation of the shells of their eggs; the thin, weak shells laid by heavily contaminated birds were easily broken and fewer young were produced. By the early 1960s, the number of bald eagles in the coterminous 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 U.S. list of endangered species.

      Like all hawks and eagles, the bald eagle belongs to the family Accipitridae of the order Falconiformes (falconiform).

Lloyd Kiff
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bald Eagle — ist der Name mehrerer Orte in den Vereinigten Staaten: Bald Eagle (Maryland) Bald Eagle (Minnesota) Bald Eagle (Blair County, Pennsylvania) Bald Eagle (York County, Pennsylvania) andere geografische Objekte in Pennsylvania Bald Eagle Creek Bald… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bald eagle — Eagle Ea gle, n. [OE. egle, F. aigle, fr. L. aquila; prob. named from its color, fr. aquilus dark colored, brown; cf. Lith. aklas blind. Cf. {Aquiline}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any large, rapacious bird of the Falcon family, esp. of the genera {Aquila}… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bald eagle — Bald ea gle (Zo[ o]l.) The white headed eagle ({Hali[ae]etus leucocephalus}) of America. The young, until several years old, lack the white feathers on the head. [1913 Webster] Note: The bald eagle is represented in the coat of arms, and on the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bald eagle — bald eagles N COUNT A bald eagle is a large eagle with a white head that lives in North America. It is the national bird of the United States of America …   English dictionary

  • bald eagle — ☆ bald eagle n. a large, strong eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) of North America: the adult has a white feathered head and neck and a white tail: the national bird of the U.S …   English World dictionary

  • bald eagle — bald .eagle n a large North American bird with a white head and neck that is the national bird of the US …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • bald eagle — noun count a large bird with a white head and neck that lives in North America and is the national bird of the U.S …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Bald Eagle — For other uses, see Bald Eagle (disambiguation). Bald Eagle …   Wikipedia

  • Bald eagle — Pygargue à tête blanche Pygargue à tête blanche …   Wikipédia en Français

  • bald eagle — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms bald eagle : singular bald eagle plural bald eagles a large bird with a white head and neck that lives in North America and is the national bird of the US …   English dictionary

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