5 Bald Eagle Facts for Kids
Bald eagles are one of the most fascinating birds that can be found in North America. They are a symbol of the United States and fully protected from harm. The bald eagle isn’t really bald though. It gets its name and the fact that it’s head, as an adult, is covered with feathers that are very short and white. The reason why we call it a bald eagle is because an older word from the English language, “Balde,” actually was a word for the color white.
Here are some other fun facts for kids about bald eagles that you might enjoy!
1. That’s a Big Wing Span!
Bald eagles aren’t birds that are very tall. At their greatest height, you might find this eagle standing just under 4 feet tall. Most of them don’t reach this height. It’s their wingspan that makes them such a large bird. Some bald eagles have a wingspan that is up to 8 feet! Because their wings are so wide from wingtip to wingtip, they can accelerate up to speeds of 200 mph when their diving through the air.
Because bald eagles fly at such great speeds and need to soar in order to spot food they want to eat, their wings also have another unique feature: they lose feathers equally. When of all the other on one wing, it will also lose another feather on the other wing so that they can stay balanced as they fly.
If you have ever watched a bald eagle fly, you will notice that it hardly ever flaps its wings. This is because the large wings are able to create updrafts that keep the bird aloft. They will hold their wings so that they are almost completely flat and by doing so, they can fly great distances.
2. Not Everyone Loves the Bald Eagle
The bald eagle might be the symbol of the United States, but not everyone thought that this should be so. One famous American, Benjamin Franklin, thought it was inappropriate to choose the bald eagle as a national symbol because it sometimes will steal food from other birds. What was his choice? A turkey. Bald eagles don’t see it as stealing food though. They aren’t picky eaters. If there is food somewhere and they can reach it, then they are going to get it.
Bald eagles might sometimes steal food, but that’s because they can see an opportunity from a long way away. Has anyone ever told you that you can “see like an eagle?” That’s a big complement! Eagles have eyesight that is seven times better than humans. This allows them to see small things in great detail while they are soaring high up in the sky. How I cannot bald eagle fly? They have been seen as high as 10,000 feet. With their great eyesight at that height, it would be possible to see a small fish from a mile away.
3. Home Is Where the Heart Is
You can always tell when bald eagles are around because they have a unique nest that they build. Most eagle pairs will build a large nest up in the highest part tree or other structure that gives them a good visual landscape for hunting. Unlike some other birds, bald eagles come back every year to the same nest. They will add materials to it every year and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. One bald eagle nest that was found in the state of Florida was more than 9 feet wide and 20 feet deep!
These great nests are called aeries. This will be the home to the eaglets that are born after the eggs hatch nest. Baby bald eagles don’t look like their parents. At first they look light gray and then they will turn a brown color. It takes five years for these eaglets to develop the distinctive white head and tails that have inspired so many people over the years. Most nesting pairs will have 1 to 3 eaglets every year.
4. Bald Eagles Are Coming Back
Bald eagles are the only kind of eagle that can only be found in North America. With their distinctive look and a relative rarity, for many years they were hunted – almost to the point of extinction. At their lowest numbers, it was believed that there were just 500 nesting pairs in the United States. With a number of protection in place and severe fines and penalties for hunting, it is now believed that there are over 5000 nesting pairs that live in the United States. In recent counts, it is believed that there are a total of about 70,000 bald eagles in total right now.
Part of the reason for the good comeback of bald eagles is their life span longevity. Bald eagles can live for up to 35 years while out in a wild. They are doing so well now, in fact, that the United States removed them from the endangered and threatened species list as of 2007. With long-term recoveries underway thanks to the ban of chemicals that affect their eggs, like DDT, and rigid penalties for illegal hunting, the greatest threat that bald eagles face today is a loss of habitat.
5. Would You Like to Help the Bald Eagles?
Bald eagles need tall places to build their nests. They also like to build their nests near open streams of water where they can hunt. If we can keep tall trees intact near bodies of water, then we will be able to provide them a place that they can call home. As people are moving near the coast more frequently, there is a greater demand for timber that the bald eagles use for their nesting places. By keeping trees that have nests in them and allowing other trees in similar areas to be protected, we will be taking important steps to protect their habitat.
Bald eagles are majestic creatures that capture our imagination whenever we see them. By knowing more about them, we can protect their homes and understand their behaviors when we see them soaring and diving.