Behold the Beautiful Bald Eagle

Bald eagle with its wings spread, about to take off.

Bald Eagles are Making a Come Back

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of spotting a bald eagle. They’re majestic, bold and beautiful. However, in past years, they were also hard to find in the Credit River Watershed. The introduction of DDT, a pesticide, and habitat loss significantly impacted bald eagle populations.

In the mid-70s, the use of DDT was banned in Ontario and in 2009, the bald eagle was taken off the endangered species list but remains a species of special concern.

Bald eagles are now frequently seen throughout the Credit River Watershed, especially during their non-breeding season in winter, spring and fall. Our staff recently spotted a nesting site and its young while out in the field. 

Their heads aren’t white right away

Underside of bald eagle flying in the sky.
It’s easy to mistake a young bald eagle for another species because of its solid brown colouring.

When you think of a bald eagle, you immediately think of their iconic white head. However, did you know that it actually takes about four to five years for their head and tail feathers to turn white?

They can watch their own back

Bald eagles have excellent neck rotation. In fact, they can turn their necks almost 180 degrees. Eagles have 14 cervical vertebrae allowing for greater rotation than humans. We have just seven cervical vertebrae and can typically rotate just 70 to 90 degrees in either direction.

CVC’s Jon Clayton captured the smooth neck rotation of a bald eagle in Mississauga.

They’re in it for the long run

Need relationship advice? Connect with a pair of bald eagles. Once a female finds a partner, they’re together for life. To determine the appropriate mate, they do a fitness test. Both males and females court each other by soaring to high altitudes, locking their talons together and tumble or cartwheel towards the ground.

They’re engineers

Bald eagle sitting on a branch beside a large nest.
A bald eagle’s nest is the largest of any bird in North America.

A bald eagle’s wingspan can be over two meters, which means they need a big home. A male and female will work together to build a nest about six feet in diameter. The nest will house two parents and between one and three eggs. They are known to reuse their nests and will often add more nesting material to it.

They’re all feathers

With their wingspan being so large, you would think a bald eagle would be heavy. However, an adult weighs about 10 pounds, which is mostly feathers. They have over 7,000 feathers on their body which weigh about twice as much as their entire skeleton.

Like all animals in the wild, please enjoy them from a distance. Learn more about nature and wildlife in the Credit River Watershed.

Do you have bald eagle photos of your own? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

By Kimberley Laird, Associate, Marketing and Communications

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