Celebrate the Fourth With a Few Bald Facts

Bald Eagle

 

I thought it fitting to write about our nation’s symbol on the day we celebrate our Independence from England and the formation of a new country—one based on the ideal of equality for all (a work in progress, because we all suffer from human nature). I’ve learned a few things over the years about Bald Eagles that I thought I’d share with you (along with some photos I took in Valdez, AK yesterday where I stumbled across a convocation of eagles).

1. That eagle scrBaldEagleeam you hear in the movies isn’t real. Well, it’s a real scream, but it belongs to the eagle’s smaller cousin, the Red-tailed Hawk. Evidently Hollywood types wanted a more dramatic call, so they do voiceovers for the regal eagles. An eagle sounds more like a combination between a gull and a chicken. I vote we let eagles have their voice back.

2. Eagles mate for life. Mostly. They don’t choose a mate until they reach the age of four or five, and they stay together until one of them dies. If the pair’s eggs don’t hatch, they may separate and seek another mate. Bald Eagles can live up to 40 years in the wild. That means that they stay faithful for about 30-35 years (which we could all learn from).

 

 

 

 

 

bald eagle

3. If you see a pair of
eagles, the bigger one is the female.
Female eagles weigh 25% more than their mates and have the bigger wingspan (up to eight feet). Both the male and the female build the nest, incubate the eggs, and feed the young. Eagle offspring may hang out with their parents for up to a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bald eagle4. Eagles have training wheels. Ok, not really, but their longer flight feathers serve the same purpose. Until they experience their first molt (after they have learned to fly well), a young eagle may look bigger than its parents because it has longer flight feathers that aid it with its flight lessons.

5. Benjamin Franklin was only partially correct. He disdained the choice of the Bald Eagle as the national bird because he had observed that they stole from other animals, ate carrion, and allowed smaller birds to harass them. While eagles to eat carrion and do steal food from other hunters, they also do a fair amount of their own hunting, and have even been known to hunt cooperatively with a family member (one distracts the prey whilst the other swoops in from behind). Eagles also hunt and eat other birds—but they don’t usually bother with the ones smaller than mallards.
6. Eagles don’t just represent strength for a nation. Isaiah 40:31 tells us that if we wait (live in expectation, to be ready and available) on the Lord, he’ll renew our strength and we’ll soar on wings like the eagle.

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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