About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FAQ on Bald Eagles

Bald eagle chicks (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) i...Image via Wikipedia
I've had quite a lot of emails requesting information on Bald Eagles lately. The following are a few of the most frequently asked questions.

When do eagles lay eggs? ~ FPO, Armed Forces Pacific
Depending on where they live, eagles nest from January - March. Bald Eagles are monogamous and mate for life. Together they build their large nest, called an eyry, at the top of a tall, sturdy tree or they may also nest in a cliff or on the ground in treeless regions.

A new nest averages 2 feet deep and 5 feet across. They are lined with twigs, moss, grass, and feathers. The nest becomes larger each year as the eagles return to breed and add new nesting materials to shore up the old nest. Eventually, some nests reach sizes of more than 10 feet wide and can weigh several tons.

How long does it take to incubate eagle eggs after they are laid? ~ Grand Forks, North Dakota
Breeding bald eagles typically lay one to three eggs once a year and they hatch after about 35 days of incubation. Hunting, egg sitting, eaglet feeding and brooding duties are shared by both parents.

When do eaglets leave the nest? ~ Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The young birds add about one pound to their body weight every four or five days. After a month the eaglets are covered in its secondary coat of gray down and look like feathered bowling balls with beaks nearly the size of an adult.

Bald Eagle, first year juvenileImage via Wikipedia
In the second month the eaglets are almost as big as adults and can begin tearing up the food the parents present the young. This is good because the parents are now hunting almost continuous to feed them.

When do eagles learn to fly? ~ Lapeer, Michigan
Three months after hatching, dark brown feathers will begin to grow in and the young eagles begin flying. Their parents still provide all of their food.

After fledging, young eagles stay near the nest for one to two months watching and learning to fly and hunt. The plumage of the immature Bald Eagle is brown, speckled with white until the fifth year, when it reaches sexual maturity.
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