About The Bald Eagle
The bald eagle is a bird of prey found in the United States, Canada and Northern Mexico. It is well known as the American Eagle and as the national bird of the U.S. This eagle is renowned for its white head and tail with brown plumage as well as large and hooked bright yellow beak, feet and eyes. Its feet are featherless with short but strong toes that have long talons capable of piercing its prey. Being a member of the eagle family, this bird is huge with a wide wing span.
In the early 1700s, the bald eagle had an estimated population of 300,000 to 500,000. However, their numbers decreased to alarming levels of less than 10,000 nesting pairs by the 1950s. By the early part of 1960, their population further went down to endangered levels of less than 500 pairs. Its endangered status continued through the late 20th century.
The alarming situation was apparently caused by a variety of factors made by humans. These were the shooting of eagles, pesticide use on crops, habitat destruction and contamination of waterways and food sources by pollutants. The DDT pesticide used on crops, for instance, led to the thinning of the eagle’s egg shells which caused it to break during the incubation process.
Fortunately, immediate action was taken by authorities to help stop the dwindling of the American eagle. The stringent imposition of laws on endangered species and environmental protection coupled with active conservation actions by private groups, state and federal governments saved the American eagle from possible extinction. In 1995, this wild bird was reclassified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from being endangered to threatened. Four years later in 1999, a proposal was made to remove the bald eagle from the threatened list. The delisting in the lower 48 states took place only in June 2007.
Today, there are an estimated total of 20,000 bald eagles in the entire U.S. while there are more than 35,000 are in Alaska. Of the total birds in the U.S., 5,000 are said to be nesting pairs. The American eagle now enjoys widespread protection courtesy of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940, Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Lacey Act. With these laws in place, there is indeed a bright future for the American bald eagle and enough reason for it to soar high and reproduce.