Bald eagles, the American symbol, mostly inhabit western Canada, Alaska, and sparsely spread throughout the lower 48 states. They congregate in northwestern Pacific, Florida, upper Great Lakes, and Chesapeake Bay. The bald eagles nest their home high up on fork branches of trees or on mountain cliffs.
Adult eagles have black-brown bodies, yellow beaks and legs, and white heads and tails. It takes 4 years for the plumage to develop. The growth of the plumage indicates the eagles' maturity and attracts mates. A fully-grown eagle can be, on an average, 30-40 inches (75-107.5cm) long. When they spread their wings, the wingspan can reach up to 8ft (2.4cm) wide.
These birds of prey often feed on fish and carrion. Once in a while they would catch rabbits, squirrels, or waterfowls. Bald eagles use their sharp beaks and talons to hunt down their victims. When they see their prey, the eagles launch a surprise attack. They would dive down quickly in hope to catch their lunch. When near the prey, the eagles use their sharp talons to grab hold of their food. These predators are said to be opportunistic, which means that they adapt to the availability of food.
Both parents incubate and care for their young. The usually clutch size is 2 eggs. The incubation period is about 34-36 days.
DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), a pesticide, once used to kill off pest in farmlands endangered the eagle population. This pesticide decreased the reproduction rate of the eagles. Since it was banned in 1960, the population of the bald eagle is making a comeback. Now there are about 30,000 eagles in Alaska and Canada, and about 2,500 in the 48 states. Another reason the eagles are endangered is that hunters shoot them or they use poisoned carrion as bait to catch them.
The bald eagle was adopted as the American symbol in 1782 for its "fierce and independent image." On the contrary, bald eagles are timid creatures.