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 is home to a pair of bald eagles. Our male eagle, Justice, was found in the Great Lakes area with a bullet in his wing and arrived here in 1983. Our female eagle, Liberty, was found with a broken wing walking on the ground in Maine and arrived here in 1998. Both are now flightless birds and cannot be released to the wild. Their netted habitat is specially designed to keep flightless birds safe. While they have laid eggs several times, they have not successfully had any offspring, since their wing injuries make mating more difficult. You’ll meet our Eagles as you walk toward the main entrance and Sundial Plaza from the upper parking lot.
The possession and exhibition of the eagles is by permission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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.