The magnificent bald eagle is living proof that humans can help save a species -- and that's a really Good Thing.
In the 1960s, the number of bald eagles was down to only 400 nesting pairs as a result of pesticide use, habitat loss, and other man-made disturbances. Today, their numbers have grown to about 10,000 breeding pairs across the country. Last summer, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list; the species's comeback is due to conservation education, habitat protection, and changes in behavior.
Bald eagles aren't bald at all -- they have white feathers on their heads, necks and tail. "Bald" is derived from the Old English word "balde," which means "white." Bald eagles typically use the same nest each year, sometimes for decades. They build the nest larger each year with additional twigs and branches. One nest was found that had been used for more than 30 years and weighed more than two tons.
The bald eagle can fly 20 to 40 mph in normal flight, and can dive at speeds faster than 100 mph. Bald eagles are hunters; they kill weak, old, and slow fish and mammals, leaving the healthiest to survive. They also eat dead animals, helping with nature's clean-up process. The bald eagle is the only eagle species unique to North America and is still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald Eagle Protection Act, making it illegal for humans to interact with bald eagles without proper permits.
Special thanks to the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and wildlife expert Julie Scardina for sharing the success story of the bald eagle. To learn more about what you can do to help protect the wild animals of the world, visit swbg-conservationfund.org.