A bald eagle is not only regal, but extraordinary. In addition to catching its own fish, the bald eagle will harass other birds in flight and force them to drop their catch which the eagle then retrieves in midair. This bird is perfectly built for hunting and fishing with eyes that are almost as large as a human’s but with sharpness at least 4 times that of a person with perfect vision. This eagle also has a lifting power of about 4 pounds which is helpful when carrying prey back to that large nest high up in the trees.
Distribution: Wetlands, coasts, forests, shrublands and grasslands of North America.
Diet in the Wild: Fish, carrion, small mammals
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Bird of prey diet, fish, rats and turkey necks
IUCN Red List Status: Least concern, population increasing
Threats: Before protective laws were put in place, habitat loss, unintentional poisoning and hunting all contributed to population declines.
The bald eagle population has seen a 779% increase over the past 40 years
The bald eagle nearly went extinct in the United States. One reason for this was the use of pesticides such as DDT, which the eagles ingested through eating fish from contaminated waterways. These pesticides limited the eagles’ reproductive ability and caused the eggshells of successful reproductive attempts to be weaker, increasing the risk of damage to the embryo. DDT usage was restricted in 1972.
Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, it is illegal to hunt, own, or take a bald eagle or any part of a bald eagle (including feathers) without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Meet Indy, Caldwell Zoo's bald eagle. You may notice that he doesn't have the signature white plumage on his head and tail. This is because Indy is still a juvenile. As he gets older, his adult plumage will start coming in, and soon enough he'll be toting the renowned colors of the United States' national bird. Stop by his exhibit to keep track of his progress!