Bald Eagle           Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Peacefully enjoying a lunch of delicious pile perch, this adult Bald Eagle is about to get a surprise. A Northwestern Crow can be seen diving on the diner from the upper left corner of the picture. Commonly large avian predators such as eagles, owls and various hawks are harassed or mobbed by smaller birds. Seagulls even have a special cry that an eagle has been spotted alerting the rest to be wary.

The Bald eagle is an increasingly common site along the shoreline of Puget Sound where it feeds on fish and water birds. Carrion is eaten during the winter. Small mammals may also eaten.

Nests are constructed of sticks in large trees near the water. Nests can be up to eight feet across and weigh a ton. One to three eggs are produced but it is rare for three chicks to fledge. Incubation is about 35 days with fledging in 8 to 14 weeks. They become sexually mature with white heads in 4 or 5 years.

Bald Eagles range for Alaska to Mexico and all across North America where they can usually be found near water. The lower 48 population is recovering from a variety of environmental impacts over the past sixty years. Impacts such as pesticide effects on breeding, consuming ducks wounded by lead shot, direct hunting, and loss of nest sites reduced the population so much that a federal law, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, was enacted in 1940. Further protection is offered under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Bald Eagle is currently being delisted under the Endangered Species Act but the other acts still apply.