The Bald Eagle Mating Habits
Bald eagles are loyal to their mates during their lifetime. An eagle will usually look for a new mate only if its companion dies. Together, they build huge nests known as “aeries” atop tall and strong trees. They make use of twigs, grasses, soft mosses and feathers in making their nests. They normally go back to their nests during breeding time and add new materials to it each year.
A new eagle’s nest measures an average of five feet in width and two feet in depth. However, as their family grows, the nest also becomes larger reaching more than ten feet wide and heavier.
By the age of four or five, bald eagles are already sexually mature during which they look for a mate to have offspring with. The mating season varies by region. In the south, it may occur from the later part of September to November while it may take place from January to March in the Great Plains and Mountain West. In Alaska, the mating season is usually from late March to early April. Contrary to traditional belief, eagles don’t copulate on the air but rather on a branch near their nest or on the ground.
Bald eagles can mate throughout their life starting from the age of four. Breeding, however, may not happen every year to all the birds despite having a pair due to bad weather, absence of a suitable nesting site or lack of food.
A female bald eagle, which is larger than the male, lays one to three eggs every year during the spring season. This takes place five to ten days after copulation. It takes about 35 days to incubate the egg before it can hatch. When the American bald eagles are incubating, they build the biggest tree-nests of birds in the entire world.
After the laying of eggs, bald eagle parents are very protective just like humans. Both parents take turns in hunting for food, incubating the egg, watching over the nest against squirrels, ravens and gulls and feeding the eaglets. When the father eagle catches a fish, he eats the head and brings the rest to his family. They perform these duties until their eaglets are strong enough and capable of flying at the age of 12 weeks. The sharing of duties is meant to allow each parent eagle to stretch, bathe, defecate and hunt for food.
Bald eagles stay away from human activity hence they live mostly in areas where they can’t be disturbed by people. When they are disturbed, they abandon their nest.