Bald Eagle ~
Bald eagles are large raptors (birds of prey) native to habitats with tall trees for perching that border streams, rivers, and coasts throughout the United States and Canada. The bald eagle is named for the white head of plumage that the species develops at approximately five years of age. The bald eagle prefers to feed upon fish, but will also prey on other birds near aquatic habitats, small mammals, and they will even eat carrion in the wild. To help capture fish, the eagles use large talons (claws) and special fleshy projections on their toes known as spicules to prevent the fish from slipping out of their feet.
The bald eagle is an American conservation success story. In the mid-20th century, bald eagle populations collapsed down to only approximately 50 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the 48 contiguous U.S. states due to pollution, hunting, and the use of the pesticide DDT which caused some eagles to become sterile or to lay eggs with thin egg shells that would crack during incubation. Hunting protection regulations and the ban of DDT in the U.S. as well as improved water quality in streams and rivers enabled bald eagle populations to rebound strongly enough that the species was delisted from the U.S. list of endangered species in 2007.
We take care of one injured female, non-releasable bald eagle at the zoo named Amelia. We feed Amelia thawed frozen rats, a special meat-based bird of prey diet, and salmon. Her favorite enrichment is foraging for her diet in boxes, bags, or under sticks and vines.