Do Bald Eagles Really Have No Feathers?

There are numerous significant symbols of the United States, from the American flag to the Statue of Liberty to the Liberty Bell. However, one of the most stunning symbols has to be the majestic Bald Eagle.

Not only is the Bald Eagle a prominent symbol of the United States, but it is also the national bird. It can be found in various parts of North America, including most of Canada and Alaska, the entire continental United States, and northern Mexico.

The scientific name for the Bald Eagle is Haliaeetus leucocephalus. This name is derived from four Greek root words: hali (salt), aeetus (eagle), leuco (white), and cephalis (head). When combined, these words indicate that the Bald Eagle is a white-headed sea eagle! It is the only sea eagle that is native to North America.

Bald Eagles have mainly brown feathers with a white head and tail. You might be wondering why they are called “bald” when they clearly have white feathers on their heads. The name actually comes from an old English word — piebald — which meant “white-headed” rather than hairless.

Bald Eagles inhabit areas near large bodies of open water. Since their diet primarily consists of fish, they usually choose to build their nests in tall coniferous or hardwood trees near oceans, rivers, or large lakes with abundant fish populations. Bald Eagles catch fish by quickly swooping down and snatching them out of the water using their sharp talons.

Once an endangered species, conservation efforts over the past 25 years have led to significant increases in the Bald Eagle population. On June 28, 2007, the Bald Eagle was officially removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. However, as the national bird, it still receives protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

If you ever have the opportunity to witness a Bald Eagle in flight, it is truly a magnificent sight. Soaring high on updrafts of warm air, Bald Eagles can reach speeds exceeding 40 miles per hour. When they dive into the water to catch a fish, they can reach speeds of over 75 miles per hour!

The Bald Eagle continues to be an important and frequently used symbol of the United States. It is a prominent element of the Great Seal of the United States and can be found on most official United States government seals, as well as in the logos of many United States federal agencies.

Give It a Try

Are you ready to experience the thrill of soaring with the eagles? Enlist the help of a friend or family member and try out the following activities:

If you don’t have the opportunity to see a Bald Eagle in person, you can watch videos of them in action, such as the Decorah Bald Eagles webcam videos, the American Eagle video, and Bald Eagle fishing. For those who enjoy crafts, you can try making a Paper Bag Bald Eagle, a Bald Eagle Wreath, or explore other Bald Eagle projects, activities, and crafts for kids. The choice of the Bald Eagle as the national bird by our Founding Fathers was fortunate, considering what it would be like if the national bird was a turkey, a chicken, or a parrot. You can even draw a copy of the Great Seal of the United States with a turkey, chicken, or parrot in place of the Bald Eagle to see how it compares. Do you think it would be an improvement? Why or why not?

If you want to learn more about Bald Eagles, you can visit the following sources:




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