Thursday, March 24, 2011

Today's Trivia – Bald Eagle

This week’s useless but interesting information is all about the beautiful and fascinating bald eagle.

Let’s get right to it...

- The bald eagle is a bird of prey found in North America.

- Bald eagles mate for life. If one member of the pair dies or disappears, the survivor may take a new mate.

- Failed breeding attempts may prompt a pair to split up and look for new mates.

- Eighty percent of bald eagles die before their first birthday due to predators and lack of food.

- Bald eagles that survive to maturity may live 15 to 20 years or more in the wild. In captivity, they often live somewhat longer.

- It takes a young bald eagle four or five years to achieve this distinctive coloration. Until then, bird watchers may confuse it with other birds, such as the Turkey Vulture and Golden Eagle.

- Bald eagles can see three or four times farther than people.

- Between 1917 and 1953 over 100,000 American bald eagles were killed in the state of Alaska. Fisherman killed the eagles because they thought the birds were threatening their livelihood.

- In 1978, bald eagles were put on the endangered species list.

- Bald eagles are slowly coming back from the brink of extinction. They were reclassified in 1995 as 'threatened'.

- If you get caught today with even one bald eagle feather, you can be fined up to $5,000 and spend a year in prison.

- Males and females are identical in plumage coloration.

- You can tell the difference between a male and female bald eagle by their size. Female bald eagles are larger than males.

- A female bald eagle weighs up to 14 pounds and has a wingspan of seven feet.

- The bald eagle's scientific name is Haliaeetus leucocephalus.

- It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America.

- Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico.

- It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.

- The bald eagle is a large bird, with a body length of 70 – 102 centimeters (28 – 40 inches), a wingspan of between 1.68 m (66 inches) and 2.44 m (96 inches), and a mass of 2.5 – 7 kilograms (5.5 – 15 lb); females are about 25 percent larger than males, adult females averaging 5.8 kilograms (13 lb) and males averaging 4.1 kilograms (9.0 lb).

- The size of the bird varies by location; the smallest specimens are those from Florida, where an adult male may barely exceed 2.3 kilograms (5.1 lb) and a wingspan of 1.8 m (5.9 ft). The largest are Alaskan birds, where large females may exceed 7.5 kilograms (17 lb) and have a wingspan of over 2.4 m (7.9 ft).

- A bald eagle's diet consists mainly of fish, but it is an opportunistic feeder.

- Bald eagles also may sometimes feed on subsistence scavenged or stolen from campsites and picnics, as well as garbage dumps.

- Mammalian prey includes rabbits, hares, raccoons, muskrats, beavers, and deer fawns.

- Preferred avian prey includes grebes, alcids, ducks, gulls, coots, egrets, and geese.

- Reptiles, amphibians and crustaceans (especially crabs) are preyed on when available.

- The Bald Eagle’s nest is the largest of any bird in North America — on average 1.5 to 2 m across and about 1 m tall. Long-established nests can be much larger (observers recorded one that was 3 m across and 6 m tall).

- The bald eagle prefers habitats near seacoasts, rivers, large lakes, oceans, and other large bodies of open water with an abundance of fish.

- The bald eagle is extremely sensitive to human activity, and is found most commonly in areas free of human disturbance. It chooses sites more than 1.2 km (0.75 miles) from low-density human disturbance and more than 1.8 km (1.1 miles) from medium- to high-density human disturbance.

- The bald eagle's natural range covers most of North America, including most of Canada, all of the continental United States, and northern Mexico.

- Northern birds are migratory, while southern birds are resident, remaining on their breeding territory all year.

- The bald eagle is a powerful flier; it reaches speeds of 56–70 kilometers per hour (35–43 mph) when gliding and flapping, and about 48 kilometers per hour (30 mph) while carrying fish.[24]

- Its dive speed is between 120–160 kilometers per hour (75–99 mph), though it seldom dives vertically.

- Bald eagles are sexually mature at four or five years of age.

- When they are old enough to breed, they often return to the area where they were born.

- Bald eagles produce between one and three eggs per year.

- Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs. The other parent will hunt for food or look for nesting material.

- The bald eagle is a sacred bird in some North American cultures, and its feathers, like those of the Golden Eagle, are central to many religious and spiritual customs among Native Americans.

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