Elms Environmental Education Center

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January 2016: Bald Eagle

 Juvenile Bald Eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalus 

Who am I?

You know me. I am your national bird! No I did not get my name because the white feathers on my head make me look bald. I am piebald, yes PIEBALD -- meaning I am two colored, white and brown. At least I am when I grow up. When I am young I look kinda splotchy. I will be five years old when I finally am PIEBALD. This time of year I might be hanging out by myself. Soon I will find my mate and we will begin to rebuild our nest. In the winter I will lay two or three eggs and after a bit more than a month they will hatch. My mate and I will take care of them for the next three months, feeding them and guarding the nest. I am very territorial and will fight other eagles that enter my turf during the breeding season. I do not sound like you might think. I make a squeeky chirp like sound. Quite different than your movies might make you think.

Where can you find me?

 I can be found throughout North America, from Mexico to Alaska. If you are looking for me look around rivers, lakes, estuaries and sea shores. I like water.

What do I eat?

 I like fish. Really. Lots of fish. Live fish, dead fish, fish other birds caught that I can steal. Fish. And ducks, but they are harder to catch. If I am really hungry I will scavenge dead critters as well.

What might eat me?

 Nothing. I am on top of the food web. I prey, no one preys on me even my babies. Let 'em try.

Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!

  • In January I can bee seen locally re-initiating my courtship with my mate and rebuilding our nest.
  • I am the largest raptor in our area with a wing span of over six feet.
  • There are over 500 nesting pair of Bald Eagles in Maryland, about 75 in Saint Mary's County.
  • Pesticides, like DDT, almost wiped me out. I came off the Endangered Species List in 2007, thirty years after the use of DDT was highly restricted.
  • Because I eat ducks and will happily eat those wounded by hunters, I have benefited from the change from lead shot to steel shot.

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The Elms Environmental Education Center is the home of Environmental Education for St. Mary's County Public Schools.

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