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CRITTER SPOTLIGHT: Bald Eagle: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Hello Watershed Explorers! Today's critter spotlight is about the majestic bald eagle. Eagles are striking with their bright white heads and tails. Their scientific name means sea eagle white head. It is not uncommon to spot these beautiful creatures anymore. Once endangered, eagles have made a glorious return. In 2018, observers recorded spotting over 100 bald eagles in Rhode Island. However, there may have been more; eagles don't obtain their bright white heads and tails until they are five and are often confused with hawks.

Bald eagles live in high trees near water. Their preferred food is fish. Eagles are opportunistic feeders and will feed on other foods when necessary. They consume small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and occasionally other birds. Eagles are also known for stealing food from other birds.

Bald eagle nests are exceptionally magnificent. They can range from 4-5 feet wide and 2-4 feet deep. Many weigh more than 1,000 pounds. The heaviest nest ever recorded was found in St. Petersburg, Florida. It weighed over 6,000 pounds. Scientists aren't sure how many young eagle pairs will produce in their lifetime, but the estimate is 40. Eagles usually lay two eggs every year.

Eagles live 20 to 30 years in the wild. The oldest recorded wild eagle was 38 years old. In captivity, eagles have a longer lifespan of 40 to 50 years. The oldest captive eagle lived to be 47. Roger Williams Park Zoo currently displays two bald eagles and a golden eagle. These eagles are in captivity as they have injuries that make it impossible for them to survive in the wild. It is illegal to keep bald eagles as pets.

If you would like to read more about bald eagles, please check out this recent story done by Channel 10. It discusses the increased numbers of bald eagles in Rhode Island.

I hope that you enjoyed learning a bit more about the bald eagle. If you have any questions or comments, please email Mrs. Morissette at

I also have another footprint picture for you to try to identify. Please email me if you knew who left these behind!

Happy Exploring Watershed Friends! Have a great February vacation and try the screen-free challenge this week!!

Much love,

Mrs. Morissette

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