02 October 2011

bestiary: bald eagle

it's pretty common knowledge that white headed bald eagles are the national symbol of the united states but i had no idea that these birds of prey were nearly, er, extirpated (locally extinct) in the land of the free. hunting definitely had an effect on their numbers but the use of ddt (that showed up in the fish they ate) really sent their population in the u.s. in a nosedive. once ddt was banned though, the birds' numbers rebounded successfully. i also thought that being birds of prey, bald eagles only hunted for live animals but they do feed on carrion as well - sometimes the carcasses are those of whales! this and the fact that they have been known to bully food from away from other animals led ben franklin to vote against them as the american national symbol. these eagles are another example of animals that usually have one mate for life. they lay only a few eggs per year in their nests that are among the largest of any bird today. haliaeetus leucocephalus in moleskine.

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