Eagles re-use nests and add to them each year. Well-established nests may grow as large as 10 feet across, 20 feet deep, and weigh over 2 tons!
Where at the Zoo
Where in the World
Our nation’s symbol, this powerful bird of prey almost went extinct. It has rebounded in recent years, with the Minnesota-Wisconsin border hosting one of the most successful recoveries.
What They Eat
Where They Live
What They Do
How They’re Doing
Where at the Zoo
Where in the World
Young bald eagles are often confused with golden eagles because of their mottled brown color. There are two easy ways to tell them apart-habitat and plumage:
On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle was voted our national symbol. Today, twelve states include the bald eagle on their official emblems.
Because bald eagles occasionally “pirate” food from other species, Benjamin Franklin thought they were of "bad moral character" and a bad choice for our national symbol. He suggested the wild turkey instead.
Being called “eagle eye” is a compliment. Like all raptors, bald eagles have keen vision-at least four times that of a person with perfect vision.Bald eagles can fly to altitudes of 10,000 feet, and reach speeds of 50 mph when hunting and 100 mph when diving!
Care at the Zoo
Because of an injury suffered while in the wild, one of our bald eagles can’t fly more than a few feet. Instead, she hops from perch to perch. Unfortunately, too much time perched in the same position can leave a bird at risk for foot problems. To avoid this, zookeepers provide the eagle with different types of perches both natural and man-made. Having perches of different sizes and textures helps keep the eagle’s feet healthy.
Without the ability to fly to get exercise, zookeepers have to monitor the bird’s weight carefully to prevent her from becoming overweight. But that doesn’t mean our bird doesn’t eat well! The eagle receives a variety of prey items including rats, fish, chicks, and quail. Her favorite (and the most expensive item on the menu) is quail.
Meet the Animals
“Bald Eagle # 9566”
This female bald eagle is on loan to the Minnesota Zoo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She was found in 1997 in Wisconsin suffering from a broken wing and lead poisoning. After being taken to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, veterinarians discovered her wing injury was old and had healed in way that made fixing it impossible. Because she would never be able to fly, she could not be released back into the wild.
After a year of care at the Raptor Center, the eagle came to live at the Minnesota Zoo. Although we are not sure of her exact age, this eagle was in adult plumage (feathers) when she came to the Minnesota Zoo in 1998. That means she was at least 4-5 years old at the time. She has been here for more than 14 years, which means she is at least 18-19 years old.
Where to see her:
Our second bald eagle started out as part of a reintroduction program in Nebraska. Her egg was taken from a nest in Florida in December 1984, and hatched in captivity in January 1985 in Oklahoma. Shortly after being released into the wild in the spring of 1985, she was found with a broken leg. Once healed, she was re-released in August of 1985, only to be found weeks later, this time perched on a house and too weak to fly. Handlers determined that she must have imprinted on humans while being treated for her broken leg, and was unsuitable for life in the wild.
Tempest has been used in more types of programs than any other bird here at the zoo. She was even selected to be one of two representative bald eagles at the White House on July 02, 1999 when President Clinton announced during a press conference the plan to remove the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List. It takes a lot of daily work (2-4 months) before Tempest and a new trainer can develop a trusted relationship. Once familiar with a trainer, she does well in almost any situation, standing calmly on the glove, traveling perfectly in a travel container, and allowing strangers to get close. Tempest is very vocal, especially in places she considers “her” territory and in new situations.
The bald eagle is our nation’s symbol. It is one of eight species belonging to the genus Haliaeetus, (the "fish" or "sea" eagles), and the only member of the genus that is found regularly in North America. Adult bald eagles have dark brown body feathers, distinctive white feathers on their head and tail, and bright yellow eyes. They reach their adult plumage gradually over a period of about 5 years. Like other raptors, these majestic birds have taloned feet, keen vision, and a sharp, hooked beak for ripping and tearing prey.
Habitat and Distribution
Habits and Adaptations