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The Return of the Bald Eagle

The bald eagle, once in danger of extinction, has made a remarkable comeback.  Native to the United States, these majestic creatures were designated as the National Emblem in the year 1782.  They make a great national emblem due to their strength, longevity and beauty.

Their wingspan can measure an impressive eight feet long and their talons can easily rip apart small land animals such as rabbits, moles, mice and rats.  They can usually be found near larger bodies or water or marshes, which provide a great food source of fish, their favorite food.

Although not seen very often, there are almost 1,400 nesting pairs in Florida.  Alaska is the only state in the nation that has more nesting pairs than Florida.  Since bald eagles most often return to the same nest year after year, finding a nest is indeed a valuable thing.  In addition, bald eagles mate for life.  So the male/female combination found in a nest will be the same male/female combination to return year after year.  Many bald eagles winter in Florida and migrate north during the spring and summer months.

Fun fact:  the largest nest was found in Florida in 1963.  It was measured at 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

To find the location of nests in Florida, visit the Audubon Society’s EagleWatch website and program.   Most of the nests are pretty high in the trees, although some can be found close to the ground in the swampy marsh areas in Southern Florida.  Bald eagles tend to shy away from humans, but with the spread of human development, you can find nests close to human populations.

Once a nest is identified, it is not unusual to find that someone (or some group) has put up cameras to capture the activity.  If you have a nest near you, it might already have an Eagle Cam on it.  These will provide real-time feeds, the history of the birds and even what the locals have named them.

It is very important that we watch what we do in order to not further harm these raptors.  Their numbers are coming back, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t harm them without thinking.  There are stories that they have been poisoned after eating euthanized animals from a landfill and the mass use of DDT is the cause for the initial decline back in the 1970’s.  Although no longer endangered, the Bald Eagle is still protected

18 Feb

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