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Bald Eagle
Haliaeetus leucocephalus


Bald Eagle
Bald eagle, 20k JPEG
Copyright © Justin W. Moore
See more photos at OutdoorPhoto.com
The national bird of the United States since 1782, the bald eagle is the most well-known bird of prey in North America. Like many other species, the majestic bald eagle's continued existence has been severely threatened by human development, pesticide use, and poaching. In the past twenty-five years, however, the bald eagle has made great strides towards recovery thanks to federal legislation, bans on harmful pesticides such as DDT, public education, and other conservation and rehabilitation efforts. In some areas of the United States, bald eagle populations have recovered to such an extent that they have been downgraded to threatened rather than endangered species status.

Bald eagles measure approximately thirty-six inches tall, with an average wingspan of seven feet. Bald eagles are attractive birds with a brownish-black body, large yellow feet and beak, and a distinctive snow white head, neck, and tail. The bald eagle feeds primarily on fresh carrion and fish, occasionally taking waterfowl and small mammals as well.

Bald eagles are best observed during the winter, when they congregate around lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Like many bird species, individual bald eagles pair up with a lifelong mate and return annually to the same nesting site. Bald eagles create the largest nests of any bird species--nests estimated to weigh over two tons have been observed! Year after year, the breeding pair adds new material to their existing nest.

Approximately one thousand bald eagles migrate to Texas each year, nesting from December through February. The Vanishing Texas River Cruise on Lake Buchanan in Burnet, Texas, offers bald eagle viewing opportunities from November through March. Overnight camping and other facilities are available in nearby Inks Lake State Park. Some of the best bald eagle viewing in the state, however, is probably at Fairfield Lake State Park where eagle watching tours are held each Saturday from November through February.



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