Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More on the Birds

While I am still 100% addicted to Decorah Eagles web cam on UStream - I thought I would take the 50 minutes and watch the PBS Documentary on this particular pair of bald eagles.

Within the first 9 minutes and 12 seconds, I am in tears.  Sitting in my office, weeping.  Such a sad start to this legacy of this pair, as well as the history of the Bald Eagle, and the perils they face.

On 20 June, 1782, our Continental Congress adopted the bald eagle as our official national symbol, after much debate among the members. Thomas Jefferson jokingly suggested that the wild turkey should be chosen, but ultimately the symbolic power, strength and freedom associated with the bald eagle won out.

Typically, Bald Eagles mate for life.  However, if one of a pair passes away, the remaining bird may take on another mate - as this male did in 2008 after his first mate passed away from unknown causes during a snow storm.  

Bald Eagles reach maturity around 4-5 years of age, and can lay between 1-3 eggs, with 3 being rare.  This pair has a 100% success rate with eggs to healthy Eaglets.  It takes 35 days for incubation, and the eggs are so fragile - they can freeze in under a minute.  Healthy Eaglets will "fledge" in 10-15 weeks.  

They hunt anywhere from 50-100 miles away from their nests - and are more opportunists, than killers.  Live prey is actually last on their list of preferred meals (excluding of course fresh fish).

Bald Eagles are very good swimmers, however it is not uncommon for an eagle to misjudge and latch onto a fish that is too heavy, or large, for it to fly with, they may swim a distance to shore and drag the fish with them to eat it.  There have been cases of bald eagles drowning, or succumbing to hypothermia.

A Bald Eagle can eat up to 1.5 lbs of meat per day, and as little as 0.5 lbs.  However, after a gorging, they have been known to fast for up to 9 days before needing to feed again.

These two sites are among the best I've found for answers:

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