Newsflash! June 20th is National Bald Eagle Day! (I know; who knew?) Now I know it’s September, but I’ve become fascinated with these raptors lately, and thought I’d share a few facts that I never knew about these beautiful birds, and a few images as well. (Read to the end and you’ll learn the answer to the best trivia night question ever!)
I should probably confess that other than at a zoo, I don’t think I had ever seen a bald eagle “in person” until Becky and I moved to the Pacific Northwest. It’s true I might have TOLD you that I saw the eagle in the sky that you pointed out, but in truth I probably just saw a shadow. Or a crow. Or a smudge on my glasses…
That said, as soon as we moved to Long Beach, I was seeing bald eagles every day, and loving every minute of it! It truly never gets old. We had seen a few perches dotting the peninsula that seem to be well used and so Becky and I took a couple of construction beams from the house build and fashioned a perch on the west side of our property overlooking the ocean. Within a week we had our first bald eagle visitors along with a host of other raptors, and other than a couple of weeks during the July 4th craziness, these beautiful birds are frequently found on the perch overlooking the ocean and (I’m sure) us.
From a gender equality perspective, bald eagles are solid, with both the males and females taking turns incubating their nest of up to 3 eggs a year (sadly, not all usually live). If you are lucky, you’ll see some a eaglet and get to watch them go from grey to brown as they grow, finally developing their normal white heads and tails at about 4-5 years old. Eagle nests are high up in trees and measure 2-4 feed deep and 4-5 feet wide and as they typically mate for life, you’ll see a pair coming back to a nest site year after year.
Fun fact: pair of eagles near St. Petersburg, Florida, earned the Guinness World Record for largest bird’s nest: 20 feet deep and 9.5 feet wide, and weighed over two TONS!
A few more fun facts for you:
- Bald eagles can climb up to 10000 feet (and see prey on the ground!)
- They can fly up to 40 miles/hour
- They live 20-30 years
- They see ultraviolet light
And finally for the trivia answer. You know the sound that bald eagles make in the movies? That powerful screech that we all associate with their dramatic entrance? Yea, that is likely NOT a bald eagle you are hearing, but rather a red tailed hawk screech. Hollywood has used this little “modification” for decades. Take a listen to a real eagle call as well as the Red Tailed Hawk here (all credit to the YouTube authors):
So now you are all prepared for next June. Between now and then, I hope you get to watch these beautiful raptors where you live; they are truly amazing!
Post note: I’ve just learned that today is “National be Late for Something Day” so technically speaking, I’ve done my job here… 🙂