During the 1800s and early 1900s, New York was home to more than 70 nesting pairs of bald eagles, and was the chosen wintering grounds of several hundred. By 1960, the state had only one known active bald eagle nest remaining, and the number of wintering visitors had been reduced to less than a few dozen.
Bald Eagles are one of the most famous “endangered” birds in the world. After nearly disappearing from the planet completely, their comeback has made them an example for conservation efforts everywhere.
Their near extinction was due to over-hunting, loss of natural habitats, and the overuse of pesticides and insecticides. After the federal banning of the insecticide DDT and the implementation of other conservation actions, Bald Eagles made a remarkable recovery. In August 2007, they were removed from the endangered species list, however they are still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Act.
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Fish is the primary food of bald eagles, but they will eat a variety of other animals and birds. Their prey items include waterfowl and small mammals like squirrels, prairie dogs, raccoons and rabbits. Bald eagles are opportunistic predators meaning that in addition to hunting for live prey, they will steal from other animals (primarily from other eagles or smaller fish eating birds) or scavenge on carrion.
The Bald Eagle is characterized by a stark white head which contrasts their brown bodies. The average bald eagle weighs about 14 pounds while having a wingspan of about 8 feet. Females of mating age will typically lay 1 to 3 eggs per year which hatch after 35 days.
Young eagles learn to fly within 3 months of hatching, and will live up to 25 years in the wild (or longer in captivity).