Bird Bio: The Bald Eagle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jennifer Smith   
Saturday, 17 November 2012 20:40


This is our resident Bald Eagle, who was hatched in 1985 in Cheboygan, MI. In 2003, he was found with a broken wing. He was treated at Michigan State University’s Veterinary Clinic, and was deemed non-releasable due to his injuries. He lived at the Potter Park Zoo until 2006, when he came to live at the Sanctuary. The Zoo wanted a glove-trained presentation bird, but his amputation prevented him from balancing well enough to do so. He does very well here as a display bird.


Despite the name, Bald Eagles are not actually bald. They are named for their white heads, which they develop around five years of age. Bald Eagles are usually found near bodies of water, and are known for their fondness for fish. When fish are not available, Bald Eagles are known to eat waterfowl such as Mallard Ducks and American Coots, and they also scavenge extensively.  Bald Eagles are one of the largest birds of prey in North America, with a wingspan of nearly seven feet!

Bald Eagles are known for being America’s national symbol. However, founding father Benjamin Franklin did not want the Bald Eagle to be our national symbol because of their scavenging habits. He would have preferred the Wild Turkey, because he thought it was more noble.

The Bald Eagle was listed as endangered in 1978 due to a combination of hunting, poisoning, and the reproductive problems caused by the pesticide DDT. After DDT was banned and purposeful killings were decreased, the Bald Eagle made a dramatic recovery. In 2007, the species was removed from the Endangered Species list. One of the largest continuing threats to Bald Eagle population health is lead poisoning from hunter-shot kills. Because they scavenge so much, particularly during the winter when waterways freeze over (which often coincides with hunting season), Bald Eagles are especially susceptible to lead poisoning.

Bald Eagles are rather vocal birds, though the sounds they make would surprise many people. In movies, the typical “eagle” scream is actually the sound made by a Red-tailed Hawk. Bald Eagles make more of a chittering, high pitched sound. Our resident Bald Eagle is quite chatty. Be sure to stop at his enclosure the next time you visit, and he might talk to you!