I’m not much of a football fan, but I do have enjoy watching the Super Bowl. Many bird sites like to post about SuperbOwl Sunday, but this year the Philadelphia Eagles are in the championship game. I live close to Philly, so I’m right in the middle of Eagles country. So in honor of the fact that the birds are in the Super Bowl, here are some fun facts about Bald Eagles, the team’s mascot.
- Bald Eagles are known for their distinctive white heads/tails, dark bodies, and yellow bill/legs. This is actually the adult plumage. Juvenile eagles are all brown and mottled on their body to various degrees. Each year they gain more white feather until the reach their full adult plumage around the age of 5.
- Fish is the main staple of the Bald Eagle. They are opportunistic and will eat carrion, as well as birds, mammals, amphibians, and invertebrates. They will also try to pirate food off Ospreys or fish-eating mammals.
- The Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782.
- Mate selection begins around the age of 4, and breeding pairs will stay together for life. Both sexes will contribute to making a nest, with the female focusing on stick placement.
- Bald Eagles construct some of the biggest nests in the world. They can be as tall as 2-4 feet and as wide as 5-6 feet. An eagle pair use the same nest for many years, often adding sticks to it each year.
- The record for the largest Bald Eagle nest was 9 feet, 6 inches in diameter and 20 feet deep! It was located in St. Petersburg, Florida.
- Bald Eagles are usually solitary birds. In the winter, they will congregate in large groups, especially if there is a salmon spawn.
- Bald Eagles are known for one of the most dazzling mating displays. A pair will lock talons and rapidly descend to the ground in a dizzying spiral. They will release their talons before hitting the ground.
- While diving, eagles can reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.
- Bald Eagles represent one of the greatest success stories in bird conservation. In the 1978, these birds were added to the Endangered Species Act, mainly due to exposure to the harmful chemical DDT. After DDT was banned, populations began to rebound through the 1980s. By the 1990s breeding populations started to become more established. They were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007. However, they still face threats from overdevelopment, lead ammunition, and collisions with vehicles.
- Alaska is home to the highest number of Bald Eagles in North America, with a population of around 70,000. Other states with high Bald Eagle populations include Florida, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Here’s hoping the birds win! Either way, Bald Eagles are still majestic and amazing birds. Fly, Eagles, fly! 🦅