The winner of today’s photography challenge is our national emblem—the Bald Eagle. Truthfully, it wasn’t until I got home and put the pictures on the computer that I realized that I managed to get a fairly decent picture of one in flight.
I’m not a stranger to photographing Bald Eagles, when we would go up to northern Minnesota and stay at the family cabin, we’d usually see a Bald Eagle or two perched on the top of some of the trees.
While the eagle is in the raptor family, it is actually an opportunistic predator. It will hunt, though it does by either watching from a high perch and then swooping in to catch the prey unexpected or by cruising low over the water or land. It is known to be a scavenger feeding on dead carrion. It will also harass other fishing birds (such as Ospreys) and steal their food from them.
They usually have one or two young a year, though if it is a scarce year in terms of hunting only one of the young may actually survive (the strongest one to get to the food dropped in the nest). It is usually four or five years before the eagles will mate, and they may mate for life. They may also reuse the same nest, adding to it each year making it bigger and bigger. It isn’t unheard of Great Horned Owls stealing the nest of Bald Eagles.
What are some other cool facts about Bald Eagles?
It was almost beaten by the wild turkey for choice of the national emblem (that was the bird that Ben Franklin wanted chosen).
They have been observed to “play” with plastic bottles or other objects (such as sticks).
The largest nest on record is in St. Petersburg Florida and was measured to be 2.9 meters in diameter (or 9.5 feet) and 6.1 meters (or 20 feet) tall.
The young bald eagles (under the age of five) spend the time in nomadic exploration, and fly hundreds of miles.
They can have long life spans—the oldest recorded bird was ~38 years old. It had been hit and killed by a car in New York in 2015; it had also been banded in New York—but in 1977.
References: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/bald-eagle; https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bald_Eagle/overview#
As much as I would love to try to get a picture of their nest–I know that they’re probably not nesting around Boomer Lake, and therefore I won’t be trekking in to see if I can spot the young being fed. Now if I was up at Lake Vermilion–that would be another story (though I’d have to be extremely careful not to drop my camera into the lake).