The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), our national bird, is the only eagle unique to North America. At a certain point in time, the word “bald” was meant as “white” rather than what it is today which is hairless. Bald eagles are found all throughout North America from Canada to around the northern region of Mexico. About half of the world’s 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska. “Combined with British Columbia’s population of about 20,000, the northwest coast of North America is by far their greatest stronghold for bald eagles” (Baldeagleinfo). They are very populated in this area because of the amount of salmon and the ease of access to them. Dead or dying fish are an important food source for all bald eagles. There are two types of bald eagles. The southern bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus, is found in the southern “Gulf” states from Texas and California all the way to Florida, south of 40 degrees north latitude across the continent. The largest amount of northern bald eagles resides in the Northwest, like Alaska for instance. The northern bald eagles are slightly larger than the southern bald eagles. Studies have shown that “northern” bald eagles fly into the southern states and Mexico, and the “southern” bald eagles fly north into Canada. Because of these finding, the subspecies of “northern” and “southern” bald eagles has been discontinued in recent literature(Baldeagleinfo). The size of bald eagles varies depending on the sex of the bird. Unlike most other birds, the females are larger than the males. A female bald eagle has a wingspan of around 79 to 90 inches with a body length of 35 to 37 inches. While the male bald eagle has a wingspan ranges from around 72 to 85 inches with a body height of 30 to 34 inches while their average weight is roughly around ten to fourteen pounds. The northern eagles are much larger than their southern counterparts. The Bald Eagle is a well-known bird for the simple fact that it is the National bird, but what a lot of people seem to not understand or hardly understand is that they are still partially endangered. While they are not as endangered as they once were because it is now illegal to hunt for them, their populations are still being watched. The bird is meant to stand for freedom and is to be our national symbol for what we actually stand for, but it can’t be construed as freedom if it no longer exists. From the moment the bald eagle was listed and widely known to be the national bird and symbol for freedom, it was a huge target and started to go endangered fast. One of its lowest points, if not its lowest point, was in the 1960’s when there were roughly only 400 pairs of bald eagles living. This is the point that it was considered to be an endangered species and was heavily watched to make sure it didn’t go extinct. The many federal acts or programs, the “Endangered Species Act” being the most effective, that were created for the bald eagle show how much the government cares about the symbol of our nation. There are quite a few reasons why it became an endangered species, but it can mostly be filed down into four categories. One of the first reasons why the bald eagle was endangered was because of the pesticide DDT(Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). This pesticide wasn’t necessarily affecting the eagles right away, but in turn the pesticide seemed to make the shells of the birds eggs a lot softer than they should be. Due to the eggs being so soft it sadly made it so that the babies wouldn’t last long enough for them to be hatched, causing a lot of the babies to never make it. Frank Melino Graham Jr., the author of the article “Winged Victory,” states that the species continued a steady decline into the 1950’s, when its extirpation south of Canada came close to reality. Laws that were made to then protect them were not really useful at this point. Evidence began to build that DDT and other long-lived insecticides that were made obtainable a little after the second world war were draining off of heavily sprayed farms and forests resulting in contamination of the aquatic food chain. This then finds its way into bald eagles because after they eat the food they get those toxins inside of their body.
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