Anatomy of... A Bald Eagle

Noble birds more common in Florida than in any state except Alaska.
Bald Eagle
photo credit: 
Shutterstock photo


During their drastic decline in the DDT pesticide era of the 1960s and 1970s, young eaglets were taken from Florida nests for use in a reintroduction program aimed at rebuilding populations elsewhere, according to Jerry Jackson, FGCU professor of ecological sciences and host of WGCU-FM’s “With the Wild Things” segments. Here are some other interesting tidbits he provided:

The lower legs of bald eagles are bare; those of the golden eagle are feathered all the way to the base of the toes.

The bald eagle isn’t truly bald. The white feathers covering its head appear at maturity when it is 4 years old.

The prominent brow over the eyes creates the impression of a stern look, but the bony ridge on the skull actually functions like a visor. It shades the eagle’s eyes, protecting it from glare and enabling better vision for hunting.

An adult bald eagle’s bill is solid yellow; an immature bird has yellow at the base and a black tip. A golden eagle’s bill is smaller and darker yellow.

Large feathers at the wing tips create tiny vortexes of air with each wing stroke that make flight more energy efficient. Though they resemble spread fingers, they are not any wider apart than other wing feathers. They are sculpted – notched on both the leading and trailing edge – for several inches near the tip.

Pinnacle Issue Info
Issue Date: 
October 2011
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