The bald eagle scientific name is Haliaetus leucocephalus, meaning ’sea eagle with a white head’ in Latin and Greek, and they are still known as sea eagles. Of the ’sea eagle’species the bald eagle is the only one that is native to North America. They can be found thought out Northern Mexico, continental United States and up into Alaska and Canada.

The bald eagle is a pleasure to watch. The soaring eagle’s flight appears to be in slow motion. Its appearance is unmistakable by its white head and white tail set against the backdrop of its beautiful, plush, deep chocolate-colored body.

The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of American, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks. In the 18th Century American settlers gave the bald eagle its name, thinking it was the same as the Sea Eagle found in Europe.

Like other birds, The Eagle has been affected by the widespread use of pesticides. But thanks to several states that have been breeding bald eagles for the first time in years, the efforts to revive this majestic bird have been successful.

Bald Eagles can get up to 29 to 42 inches long; weigh 7 to 15 pounds with a wing span of 6 to 8 feet. Eagles can live around 40 years in the wild, and longer in captivity. Females are larger than males. Bald Eagles residing in the northern U.S. are larger than those that reside in the south.

Bald Eagles have mottled brown and white feathers under their wings and on their head, tail and breast. The distinctive white head and tail feathers do not appear until Bald Eagles are about 4 to 5 years old.

Bald Eagles live near large bodies of open water such as lakes, marshes, seacoasts and rivers, where there are plenty of fish to eat and tall trees for nesting and roosting. Bald Eagles feed primarily on fish, but also eat small animals (ducks, coots, muskrats, turtles, rabbits, snakes, etc.) and occasional carrion (dead animals).

They seldom dive vertically on their prey, preferring to descend more gradually and snatch fish, rabbits, etc. with their feet applying approximately 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch in each foot. They can carry about half their weight.

Their diving speed is estimated at 75 to 100 miles per hour and around 44 miles per hour in level flight. They can fly to altitudes of 10,000 feet or more, and can soar aloft for hours using natural wind currents and thermal updrafts. Their keen eyesight allows them to spot fish at distances up to 1 mile. Eagles swoop down to seize a fish in their talons and carry it off.

Bald Eagles can swim to shore with a heavy fish using their strong wings as paddles, but can only lift about five pounds. Under certain circumstances, eagles have been known to drown trying to lift a fish that weighed too much.

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