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Birds – The American Bald Eagle

Informally, the American eagle was chosen as the National Symbol in 1872, when the U.S. Constitution was signed into law. It wasn’t put forwards as an official candidate until 1788. Franklin led a heated debate about whether or not this bird should be the National Bird.

Mr Franklin wanted the turkey because he thought it better represented the American people’s clean, honest, and straightforward values. His bid failed, though, when Washington became the first President of the United States in 1789. The American eagle was then officially named the “First Bird.”

The American eagle is the only eagle that comes from North America, and it can only be found on that continent.  About 35,000 of the state’s 70,000 people live there. About 20,000 of them live in British Columbia, and the rest live mostly along the Pacific coast, with a few in other parts of the United States.

Most people live in the Pacific Northwest, in part because there are so many salmon there. Eagles get most of their food from fish, which is a big part of their diet. They will eat small animals like mice, rabbits, muskrats, ducks, and snakes. If they have to, they will also eat dead animals, which is called carrion. But they like their food to be fresh and fish is one of their favourite foods.

Even though the American eagle can carry its food on its wings, it will only lift about half of its own weight. Even though they dive, catch fish in the water, and swim back to shore with them, they have been known to drown if the fish is too big and they don’t let go of it.

For both men and women, the linear unit is between 29 and 42 inches (73.66 to 106.68 centimeters). The male usually weighs between 7 and 9 pounds (.497 and.639 stone) and has wings that can be longer than 6 feet (1.83 meters). The female is bigger and can weigh as much as 14 pounds (.99 stone). She will have wings that are as long as eight feet (2.44 meters).

In straight-line flight, the American eagle has been seen going 44 miles per hour (70.1 kmp). It can dive at 75 to 100 mph, which has been measured (120.68 to 160.39 kmp). The eagle can ride thermal air currents for more than 10,000 feet (3048 metres) and can stay in the air for hours at a time doing this.

This type of bird stays with the same partner for life and can only find a new one if its “spouse” dies. They build a “eyrie” (also spelt “aerie”) where they keep their eggs warm and raise their young until they are 12 weeks old and ready to fly away.

An eyrie, or nest, is usually on the top of a big tree (often aspen) or on a mountain ledge. Eagles often add to their nests until they are as big as 10 feet (2.54 metres) across. The nests are lined with soft things like leaves, feathers, and moss so that the eggs can be incubated in a safe place after the female lays them.

The eggs are usually laid at the end of April after the eagles have done a “courtship dance” in the air in early April. During this flight sequence, they dive and climb. It looks like they are attacking each other by locking talons or claws.

After the eggs are laid, the male and female take turns hunting, caring for the eggs (which take 34 to 35 days to hatch, usually in late May or early June), keeping an eye on the nest, and brooding and feeding the eaglets until they can fly and leave the nest.

When the chicks are about 12 weeks old, this happens. They grow special flight feathers that make them look bigger than their parents and give them more balance (like training wheels on a bike) while they learn to fly.

When they are born, hatchlings are light grey, but they turn dark brown before they leave the nest. Until they are 5 years old, young adults have brown and white spotted feathers under their wings.

When the bird is 5 years old, the top and end feathers turn white. The adult bird is not, in fact, bald. There was one time when “bald” meant “white.” So, it got its name, “bald eagle.” Between the fourth and fifth years, the beak and eyes lose the yellow colour that makes them stand out. It is amazing to see an adult American eagle up close. Seeing one on the wing is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Efforts to preserve

Even though both the “National Symbols Act” and the “Bald and Golden Eagle Preservation Act” were passed in 1940, the number of American eagles quickly went down because farmers killed them out of fear that they would hurt their livestock. They were killed by hunters and poachers as trophies and for money, and a lot of them died by accident. This really scared environmentalists.

So, in 1947, a law that came before the “Endangered Species Act” of 1973 made it official that the American eagle was a “Endangered Species.” They were on the endangered species list in 43 of the 48 contiguous states until 1995. They were listed as “threatened” in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) changed its status from endangered to threatened in the other 43 states in 1995.

In February 2006, it was said that the USFWS had put out guidelines on how landowners and other people should protect the species once the bird is no longer on the list of threatened species.

In these guidelines, there are ideas for laws that would make it illegal to mess with a bird’s nesting, feeding, or sheltering habits, or to bother it in a way that could hurt it, kill it, or make it leave its nest. The American eagle could be taken off the list of “threatened” species if these plans are finalised and passed.

Even if the new rules are passed, the “Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” the “Bald and Golden Eagle Preservation Act,” and the “National Symbols Act” will still protect the American eagle.

Eagles can’t be bought, sold, traded, moved, brought into the country, or taken out of it. Taking eagles, their parts, nests, or eggs without a special permit is also against the law. Possession of a feather or other body part may be a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 USD or jail time, and this law is often very strictly enforced. Native Americans who are recognised by the federal government can still have the symbols that are important to their culture.

By going to websites about them, you can learn more about these magnificent, beautiful, and royal birds and how you can help protect them.

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