The Beautiful Bald Eagle
The beautiful Bald Eagle can be seen nearly anywhere in Ohio, but nesting pairs can only found in a limited number of places. The best known area for viewing pairs of eagles is in the marshy areas along the shores of western Lake Erie and along the Sandusky River. However, in the past few years, there are some pairs are beginning to move further inland.
The habitat where the bald eagle can be found is always near an open body of water with plenty of fish. They build their nest, or aerie, in a tall tree, usually between 50 and 100 feet in the air.
The aerie of the bald eagle is made up of small tree branches and grasses. Some eagles have even added corn stalks and cattails to add extra warmth. Typically, the aerie measures 3 to 5 feet across and 3 to 6 feet deep. Eagles will return to an existing nest year after year, and each year they add more material, making it a bit larger. After several years, nests can reach up to 9 feet across and can weigh as much as 2 tons.
In addition to fish, bald eagles also will eat small mammals, such as rabbits or squirrels, other birds, like ducks and gulls, and even carrion. The bald eagle catches fish as it glides over the surface of the water. Its excellent eyesight enables it to see fish just below the water’s surface from hundreds of feet in the air. The eagle then glides down and grabs the fish right out of the water. Occasionally, bald eagles have been seen hunting in pairs.
The bald eagle is a large bird measuring around 3 to 3 1/2 feet in length. Their wingspan is between 6 1/2 and 7 feet. The bald eagle typically weighs in between 10 and 12 pounds. For such a large bird, they weigh so little because their bones are hollow and their feathers, beak and talons are made of keratin, a lightweight material similar to what our hair and nails are made of.
Bald eagles are dark brown, except for their head and tail which are snow white, and its feet and bill which are yellow. Juvenile bald eagles are mostly dark brown, with yellow feet and a black bill.
The young bird’s feathers change colors when they molt at about 4 to 5 years of age. The process of molting takes several months and begins with the feathers on the head. With each molt, the feather colors change just a bit. During the fourth year, as the molt takes place, the dark head feathers are replaced slowly by the pure white feathers, and at the end of the molt, the dark tail feathers are also replaced by the snowy white feathers the bald eagle is known for.
The Beautiful Bald Eagle really is beautiful, isn’t it?