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Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

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Bald Eagle - National Symbol

Stretch your arms as far as you can, and imagine a bird whose reach is even greater! Sitting about three feet tall, the Bald Eagle has a wingspan of more than six feet. When you see a mature Bald Eagle, you'll see a snowy-white head and tail with a dark brown body. Look closer and you'll see... read more »

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Baby Bald Eagles

A recently fledged Bald Eagle, a juvenile just learning to fly, lands unceremoniously on the ground. The parent Bald Eagles may react by calling from a tree, or they may have to descend to the ground themselves, to tend to and encourage the young bird to take flight again. Young Bald Eagles do... read more »

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Eagles Do a Fall Walkabout

It's autumn. Where have all the eagles gone? Only a few weeks after young Bald Eagles fledge from their nests, the parents leave the area as well. Bald Eagles do a kind of "fall walkabout," leaving their nesting territories for better foraging areas. In winter, eagles gather by the hundreds along... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Eagles Rebuild

Bald Eagles build large stick nests in tall trees. These nests endure rough treatment. Rambunctious chicks pull sticks out and flap madly, holding on with their feet, before they fledge. Wind buffets the nest year round. But eagles reuse their nests year after year. Adult eagles break off dead... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Bald Eagles Hunt in Tandem

A Bald Eagle dives suddenly toward the water, huge wings canted, talons outstretched. A merganser floating on the bay is its intended prey, but the duck dives before the eagle can strike. But a second eagle swoops down. After five minutes of repeated passes, one of the eagles plucks the merganser... read more »

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Eagles and Murres

While the Bald Eagle may be the biggest story of conservation success in the 20th century, it's made life tough for some colonial seabirds. All the eagles have to do is soar by the cliff, and it causes panic, scaring birds off their nests. Then gulls and crows swoop in and get the eggs. The... read more »

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Stephen Colbert's Bald Eagle

Watch Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, and you'll see a Bald Eagle streak across the screen, screaming, talons outstretched, ferocious, majestic. But - in the spirit of truthiness - we must declare that the bird you hear is not a Bald Eagle, but a Red-tailed Hawk. Be sure... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

Winter on the Columbia

A stiff December breeze blowing down the Columbia River delivers an exhilarating chill. A stretch of river near Bridgeport, in north-central Washington, is held tightly by a series of dams, creating massive lakes - lakes which, in winter, harbor thousands of water-birds. High on an overlook, a... read more »

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We Draw Strength from Nature

A Bald Eagle that was feeding on the ground suddenly rises up. With two powerful strokes, its massive wings carry it high into a tree, where it lands and looks down. Nature is impersonal, but we feel a connection, don't we? How can we not draw strength from wild creatures we admire? read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Old Abe, War Eagle

Abe Lincoln's Birthday! An infantry regiment from Wisconsin had a Bald Eagle as its mascot during the Civil War. Named "Old Abe", in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, this eagle accompanied Company C in nearly 40 battles. After the Civil War, Old Abe retired to the Wisconsin Capital, appearing... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Piracy Among Raptors

One bird of prey may steal another's meal, a behavior that biologists call piracy, or kleptoparasitism. The prey may change hands several times, perhaps from Northern Harrier to Peregrine Falcon to Bald Eagle. The Peregrine - like the young one seen here - may steal a meal, or have its meal... read more »

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The Eagle Eye

The eye of an eagle is one of the most sensitive of any animal, and may weigh more than the eagle's brain. The secret to the exceptional vision lies in its retina. The density of rods and cones within a raptor's eye may be five times that of a human's. As the Golden Eagle rides hot-air thermals... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight, language, science

An Adventure on the Skagit

On the Skagit Flats, an hour north of Seattle, dramatic scenes of wildlife unfold every winter. "The flats" are broad, level deltas where the river drains into Skagit Bay. They offer a wildlife panorama with few equals in North America. Immense Bald Eagles stand ready to give chase for a winter... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Stability and Change in Nature - Interview with Julia Parrish

For two decades Julia Parrish of the University of Washington has studied the seabirds - like this Common Murre - of the Pacific Northwest Coast. What are her conclusions after 20 years? "I have been so often surprised and proved wrong. I'll have a concept or hypothesis, make a prediction about... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Bald Eagles and Common Murres - Interview with Julia Parrish

For 20 years, Julia Parrish of the University of Washington has been studying seabirds on the Pacific Northwest coast. During this time, the population of Bald Eagles has rebounded. What does the growing eagle population mean for Common Murres? When an eagle flies over a nesting area of murres,... read more »

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National Symbol - Turkey vs. Eagle

As an old tale goes, after the eagle was chosen for national emblem, Benjamin Franklin questioned the choice. In a letter to his daughter regarding a medal created by the Society of the Cincinnati, he wrote wrily: "The Bald Eagle is too lazy to fish for himself; when the Osprey has taken a fish .... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Sky Dancing - A Rare Sight

Out in the arid West, miles north of Winnemucca, a small caravan of birdwatchers searches for raptors along a distant ridgeline of basalt and sage. Nearby, a circle of green, created by pivot irrigation, attracts Northern Harriers that hunt over fields and marshes. Then, field trip leader Harry... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Eagles on the Elwha River

Salmon once battled their way up the Elwha River to spawn. And every fall, hundreds of eagles feasted on the spent fish. But a century ago, two dams were built on the river, and they reduced the river's salmon population by more than 90 per cent. After nearly 40 years of negotiation, the largest... read more »

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Golden Eagle - The Other Eagle

The Bald Eagle stands proud as our national bird, spreads its wings on our national emblem, and serves as mascot of countless sports teams. So prominent is this iconic bird in our culture that we sometimes overlook a second, equally majestic eagle: the Golden Eagle. While Bald Eagles are confined... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, myth

BirdNote at 10

To celebrate BirdNote's 10-year anniversary, we asked BirdNote founder Chris Peterson how she came up with the idea for the show. The StarDate public radio program provided inspiration. “I had this idea grab me around the neck,” Chris recalls. “Why don’t we do for birds what StarDate does for... read more »

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Bald Eagles Fledge

When young Bald Eagles fledge, the event is the culmination of nearly a year’s work by the parents. Let’s recap how it might have gone: male and female build a nest over the winter. By March, they have two eggs. The female incubates the eggs for about a month, with the male taking an occasional... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Where Do Fledglings Go?

By late summer, most birds hatched in spring are on their own, without help from their parents. Where do they go? Young migratory birds will head south in late summer or fall, in the pattern of their species. But most non-migratory birds born last spring — such as this immature Bewick’s Wren —... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting
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