Bald Eagle | EcoTarium

Bald Eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Justice - EcoTarium's Male Bald Eagle
Did you know?: 

Despite the bird's stunning appearance, the Bald Eagle is relatively clumsy compared to other eagles. They usually feed on dead or injured fish, or fish that are in shallow water, before exerting effort to catch fish that are alive and well. They will often scavenge or steal food from other birds.

At the EcoTarium

The EcoTarium museum of science and nature is thrilled to announce a brand new resident – Bob, a young adult male bald eagle. Placed at the EcoTarium after his wildlife rehabilitators determined that he would never be able to be released to the wild due to lack of flight, Bob has had his intake veterinary exam with museum veterinarians from Tufts Wildlife Clinic, and began the long training process with the EcoTarium Wildlife Department’s keepers. The purpose of Bob’s training, like that of all of the animals at the museum, is to allow him to cooperate in his own care, with such behaviors as standing on a scale so his weight can be monitored. The EcoTarium serves as home to a wide variety of animals, from owls to turtles to bald eagles. The majority of animals living on the museum grounds have experienced injuries, illness, human socialization, or other issues which prevent them from being re-released to the wild. All enclosures have been specially designed to meet the natural needs of the species as well as to accommodate any physical limitations of the individual animal. Many animal homes and enclosures include quiet areas, where they are able to rest. All animals receive regular check-ups from their vets and daily interaction with their caretakers. Bob came to the EcoTarium via the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida (aka Bald Eagle 709-16). Estimated at around seven years old, Bob arrived at the center in October, 2016, where he received treatment for a dislocated right elbow. After extensive rehabilitation, including time in a 100-foot flight cage, it became clear that he would never regain the flight needed to thrive in the wild.

At the end of last month, the EcoTarium humanely euthanized Justice, the museum’s longest-residing bald eagle, due to quality of life decisions made by staff and Tufts Wildlife Clinic. He was believed to be one of the oldest bald eagles under human care. The average age of bald eagles in the natural habitat is mid-twenties to early thirties, Justice was in his mid-forties.

Bob’s time waiting for a permanent home was spent in the flight cage with other rehabbing eagles, many of whom recovered and returned to the wild. Rehabilitation staff noticed that Bob was often a comforting influence for young eaglets who lived with him in the flight cage. For now, Bob will live solo on exhibit to enable an adjustment to his new surroundings. The EcoTarium plans to place a second eagle in the enclosure, once both Bob and his future enclosure mate are ready.

About Bald Eagles 

The Bald Eagle has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782. Eagles are members of the Hawk family, but most closely related to the Sea Eagle. In the wild, Bald Eagles live along coasts or streams as far north as Alaska and as far south as Florida. During migration, northern eagles tend to travel south, while southern eagles travel north.

Even though the Bald Eagle is known by the white feathers on its head, these do not appear until they are about four or five years old. Bald Eagles form mating pairs for life and nest in trees or cliffs. They lay 1 to 3 eggs. Young eagles learn how to fly and hunt by watching adults. Bald Eagles hunt using their acute vision, which is four times as sharp as ours, and their talons and beak, which are made of keratin and grow continuously like our hair and fingernails do.

Eagles were added to the Endangered Species List in 1967 as populations across America shrank. In 1972 the use of DDT, a pesticide that caused eagle eggshells to be thin and brittle, was banned. By 1995, populations were large enough to upgrade their status to Threatened and they have been completely removed from the Threatened list altogether as of 2007.