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Bald Eagle Info
About Bald Eagles
The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus Leucocephalus) is found only on the North American continent. Adult male eagles generally weigh about 9 pounds. Adult females weigh in at between 12 and 13 pounds. Adult eagles have a wing span of up to 7 feet. Immature eagles are mottled brown and white. The distinct white head and tail of the mature bird is developed between 4-5 years of age. In the wild, bald eagles live to between 30 and 35 years. In captivity, they have been known to live up to 50 years.
Eagles do not live in isolation! Because they are near the top of the food chain, they become an irreplaceable indicator for measuring the health of the entire ecological system in which they live. After being listed as an endangered species in 1978 following a dramatic drop in population that began at the turn of the century, the Bald Eagle's status was upgraded to Threatened on August 11, 1995. Although efforts to replenish populations of the Bald Eagle have been successful, it continues to be protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Bald Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Eagles feed mainly on fish, but water fowl, small mammals and carrion supplement their diet, especially when fish are in short supply. Eagles can fly up to 30 m.p.h. and can dive at speeds up to 100 m.p.h. Their keen eyesight allows them to spot fish at distances up to 1 mile. Eagles swoop down to seize a fish in their talons and carry it off, but can only lift about five pounds. Under certain circumstances, eagles have been known to drown trying to lift a fish that weighed too much.
Bald Eagles have also been known to swim to shore with a heavy fish using their strong wings as paddles.
Bald eagles mate for life. Courting behavior begins in early April and often involves spectacular aerial displays of eagles diving and locking talons. Eagles lay from 1 to 3 eggs (commonly two) and the eggs usually hatch between late May and early June after a 34 or 35 day incubation period. At four months of age, eaglets appear to be larger than their parents because of their longer flight feathers. These feathers serve as nature’s training wheels, helping the juveniles stabilize during their early flying days. By the end of the summer, the parent eagles begin to suffer from "empty nest syndrome" as their offspring can generally fly and take off to be on their own. Eagles migrate in winter and often roost and hunt in groups along waterways that don't freeze and have abundant food.
Alaska Eagle Environment
The Bald Eagles of Southeast Alaska's waterways are magnificent birds of prey. Long admired for their aesthetic beauty and remarkable fishing skills, eagles are now being recognized for their biological importance as scavengers and predators in the natural environment.
The Chilkat Valley is year-round home for between 200 pair eagles. Over 150 eagle nests have been observed in the Valley. By the time of the Fall Congregation, the resident eagles are through raising their young, although immature eagles may stay near their parents for a year or more. Over 3,000 bald eagles have been counted within the preserve during the Fall Congregation. Bald Eagles are more abundant in Alaska than anywhere else in the United States with an estimated 50,000 birds – one out of every two bald eagles in North America.
In the spring and summer, you can spot eagles along Alaska's coastline, offshore islands, an interior lakes and rivers. By late fall and early winter, eagles congregate at the critical winter habitat of the Chilkat River Valley.
In this unique phenomenon, a natural upwelling of warm percolating water keeps the river from freezing allowing eagles to feed upon the late run of chum salmon. For centuries, the area where this gathering occurs has been referred to as the "Council Grounds" by the Tlingit Indians of the Valley.
Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 (16 U.S.C. 668-668d, 54 Stat. 250) as amended — Approved June 8, 1940, and amended by P.L 86-70 (73 Stat. 143) June 25, 1959; P.L. 87-884 (76 Stat. 1346) October 24, 1962; P.L. 92-535 (86 Stat. 1064) October 23, 1972; and P.L. Go to it 95-616 (92 Stat. 3114) November 8, 1978.
This law provides for the protection of the bald eagle (the national emblem) and the golden eagle by prohibiting, except under certain specified conditions, the taking, possession and commerce of such birds. The 1972 amendments increased penalties for violating provisions of the Act or regulations issued pursuant thereto and strengthened other enforcement measures. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act.
The 1978 amendment authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to permit the taking of golden eagle nests that interfere with resource development or recovery operations. (See also the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.)
Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act of 1978
This Act, Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 7421; 92 Stat. 3110) -- Public Law 95-616, approved November 8, 1978, authorizes the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to establish, conduct, and assist with national training programs for State fish and wildlife law enforcement personnel. It also authorized funding for research and development of new or improved methods to support fish and wildlife law enforcement.
The law provides authority to the Secretaries to enter into law enforcement cooperative agreements with State or other Federal agencies, and authorizes the disposal of abandoned or forfeited items under the fish, wildlife, and plant jurisdictions of these Secretaries. It strengthened the law enforcement operational capability of the Service by authorizing the disbursement and use of funds to facilitate various types of investigative efforts.
The statute also contains amendments to: Bald Eagle Protection Act (16 USC 668-668d); Central Valley Project, California, Reauthorization Act of August 27, 1954 (16 USC 695d-695j); Cooperative Research and Training Units Act (16 USC 7853a-753h); Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 USC 742a-742j); Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 USC 715 et seq.); Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 USC 703 et. seq.); National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 USC 668dd-668ee); Refuge Recreation Act (16 USC 460k-460k-4); the Act of August 5, 1947, (16 USC 666g) establishing Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge; the Act of April 23, 1928, (16 USC 690e) establishing the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge; and the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (16 USC 3503).