American Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
I photographed this American Bald Eagle at the Calusa Nature Center in Ft. Myers. The nature preserve has several birds on display in captivity. This eagle looked well cared for although I am sure it would rather be flying around in it’s natural surroundings. The Bald Eagle was once an endangered bird because of over hunting for sport and it’s feathers and the damage done by the chemical DDT which was used to control Malaria and other diseases in this country before it was banned. DDT weakened the eggs of Eagles and contributed to their premature death. The American Bald Eagle can be found in any state within the U.S. but is most common in Canada and Alaska where the hunting areas and habitats of the eagle are larger and more protected. The eagles’ hunting grounds are usually around large bodies of water where they swoop down and grab fish and other prey with their large claws or talons. They can tear away the body and flesh of it’s prey with its’ sharp beak. You can see from this picture how large and powerful the talons are on this bird. I didn’t feel too welcome or safe in this eagles living quarters and left as soon as I took a few pictures. The Bald Eagles in Alaska and Canada are larger than eagles seen in other states and have wing spans of 6-7 feet. Their nests are the largest of any tree-dwelling bird in the U.S. and can measure 8 feet wide by 13 feet deep. The American Bald Eagle is a national symbol of the U.S. and is pictured on a lot of our currency. It is ironic that one of our early national leaders, Ben Franklin objected to using the Bald Eagle as our national symbol because he noted that the Bald Eagle stole food from other birds.
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