|Subspecies|| H.l. leucocephalus|
The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a large bird of prey native to upper North America, and the national bird of America. The eagle was chosen by the Founding Fathers in 1782, and was placed on the national emblem. According to John F. Kennedy, "The Founding Fathers made an appropriate choice when they selected the bald eagle as the emblem of the nation. The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength and freedom of America." It was also chosen because of its uniqueness to North America.
Reduced severely in numbers due to pesticides in the environment, the bald eagle was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1967; it recovered sufficiently to be re-classified as threatened in 1995. In 2007 it was removed from the list altogether. However, due to its status as the national bird it is still subject to special protection.
The bald eagle is predominately blackish-brown in color, with mature adults bearing a white head and tail. Males have a length of 30 to 34 inches and a wingspan of 72 to 85 inches; females are slightly larger. Bills are yellow and massively-built. Juvenile birds resemble adult golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), and do not gain their white plumage until their fourth or fifth year.
Bald eagles are monogamous, and mate for life. Up to three eggs are laid each year in a large nest; the nest in fact, due to its being added-to every year, is the largest nest constructed by any North American bird species, and may weigh in excess of three tons. Both parents rear the chicks.
Bald eagles hunt actively for salmon, trout, and other fish in streams, lakes, and coastlines, catching them near the surface. Occasionally they will take rabbits and small game, and they have been observed scavenging off carrion.