The Life of an Eagle, a Predatory Bird
Out of all the birds in existence, you probably wouldn’t think that eagles had much of a “spark” to them. They’re large, predatory, and have a face that looks pretty similar to your typical Angry Birds character, with a furrowed brow and a downward-pointing beak. Don’t be fooled by their lack of color or the typical aesthetic appeal that many birds have; eagles are fierce, yet elegant creatures with some pretty incredible attributes!
Eagles are Immortal...Sort Of
Where smaller birds mature after only a few weeks to months at a time and then head out into the world on their own. Eagles are fully grown and ready to start producing their own families once they reach 3 to 5 years of age. As long as they’re in good health and able to thrive in their selected habitat, these large birds of prey can live for 30 more years in the wild! Eagles tend to “go against the grain” in their maturity, and in their migratory patterns.
They choose to be lone nomads, rather than traveling in the company of their own kind.
They Show Love by Tossing Sticks
Every species has its own version of courting for a mate, but eagles perform a beautiful ballet in the sky. When a female is ready to find her partner, she picks up a large stick and flies it high into the air. She then drops it, and if a male is interested in courting he will swoop up to grab the stick before it hits the ground. They will continue to repeat this ritual several more times before settling down.
Once they’ve mated, both parents will help to incubate and feed their young. As the eaglets grow, the nest becomes rather filthy from the buildup of feces and urine. Eagles aren’t terribly worried about keeping nests clean; in fact, once they’re finished with it, most eagles will leave their nest empty for a year or two before they come back to use it. This way, rain, wind, and sun naturally remove waste over time and the nest can be reused.
Eagles Like Their Steak Rare
If you have a bird feeder out in your yard, you probably fill it with things like corn, grains, and dried beans. This is a sufficient diet for smaller birds, but the average eagle weights anywhere from 6 to 15 pounds depending on the specific species. Being that they are so large, they need food that is high in protein.
This doesn’t limit them to snakes, mice, or rabbits either. Eagles are strong enough to lift and carry a small deer away right on the spot! Like an owl, they use their claws and beak to tear apart prey into bite-size pieces since they don’t have any teeth to chew with.
Even more fascinating, their talons and beaks continue to grow as they age. Eagles in captivity often need assistance in keeping their mouths “trimmed” down to an acceptable size. Otherwise, they can become overgrown and curl into their face like an unkempt fingernail.
The Bald Eagle, Loved by America Since 1782
The Bald Eagle is highly revered in the U.S. and became the official national bird on June 20th, 1782. This animal is viewed as being fierce, while also graceful and majestic; for this reason, the eagle was printed on paper money and official documents. Have you ever heard the phrase “extend an olive branch?”
It basically means to extend a gesture of peace, and an olive branch was eventually added to one claw of the emblem, with the empty one representing war. It's almost like yin yang of the U.S.
Eagles Leave Us Bone Puzzles to Study
Since they fall into the “birds of prey” category, eagles have bodily functions that are quite similar to the owl. Just like their nocturnal counterparts, they produce pellets that are comprised of bone, fur, and cartilage material from their food. By collecting and studying these leftovers, conservationists have been able to identify specific issues that are causing a disturbance in the eagle’s ability to maintain a healthy population.
Pesticides from farmland runoff end up in streams and rivers, which is where eagles and other animals make an easy meal out of fish. However, the fish are sometimes infected by these chemicals, in turn making them unsafe to consume. Another major threat to this species are animals left behind by hunters who have shot them with lead bullets. Eagles swoop in to take over the kill, only to find themselves deathly ill later on from being poisoned.
The Vulturine Fish Eagle Prefers Fruit...Strange for a Vulture, Right?
Also known as the Pine-Nut Vulture, this species of eagle is actually not a carnivorous raptor! They prefer the taste of palm husks in their habitat of Sub-Sahara parts of Africa. They are recognized by the red pattern wrapped around their eyes, along with delicate white wings decorated with symmetrical black tips.
Even though they don’t eat the typical diet of deer and rabbits, Pine-Nut Vultures will still scavenge for mollusks, muscles, crabs, crustaceans, and other aquatic animals that aren’t terribly difficult to locate. At best, they’ll expend most of their energy cracking the shell open!
In total there are about 60 different species of eagles worldwide, organizations like Defenders of Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been working to protect their habitats and preserve food sources like fish. If you want to do your part to save the eagles or another species, you can “adopt” anything from a wolf to an owl! The adoption kit includes a small stuffed toy that represents the animal you’ve selected, along with a certificate and photo of your new “pet.”
The money you spend goes straight to the wildlife fund, ensuring that eagles and species that are endangered or threatened are still around for the next generations to witness! Thanks to efforts such as these, the Bald Eagle was officially removed from the endangered species list in 2007, a huge victory for conservationists and wildlife legal foundations who push for changes in protection laws.