The Bald Eagle & It’s Journey to Today

From the endangered species list in 1978 to being completely removed from the Endangered and Threatened species list in 2007. This resilient bird has been put through the ringer and deserves appreciation. When threatened with extinction from over hunting and the use of DDT the population was dwindled down to fewer than 450 mated pairs in the early 1960s.

Endangered to Thriving

Hunted, forgotten, and thought of as a nuisance the bald eagles were almost allowed to disappear off this plant. They were declared the American national bird in 1782, at that time the estimated population was in the hundreds of thousands. The rapid decline to the population in the following years was mostly due to human activities and persecution.

Photo by Frank Cone on

With the lower numbers of nested pairs and the increased use of DDT in American agriculture it created a perfect storm to push the bald eagle onto the endangered species list.

“This pesticide accumulated in the birds’ tissues and interfered with the formation of the shells of their eggs; the thin, weak shells laid by heavily contaminated birds were easily broken and fewer young were produced. By the early 1960s, the number of bald eagles in the coterminous United States had dropped to fewer than 450 nesting pairs.”


By the late 1980s several measures had been put in place to help increase the population and by 1995 the bird had been reclassified from endangered to threatened. In the year 2000 there was an estimated more than 6,300 pairs of bald eagles, and in 2007 it was removed the the US list of endangered and threatened species.

To this day I am so proud of the work that people have done to undo the wrongs that were just ways of life back then. Because of the actions of certain people I can enjoy a bald eagle having his lunch right next to me while I’m enjoying mine. All along the Nodaway River in Iowa the bald eagles nest and hunt. Lucky for me that’s where I work at quite a bit too.

Bald eagle timeline

Nesting, Pairing, and Mating

Bald eagles are an exceptional animal and the habits are nothing short of. Nesting for a bald eagle is a process, that process can change if they are returning to the same nest as a previous year or if they are scouting for new territory.

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

The act of building the nest is a part of the breeding process, both the male and female will build together and share in almost the entire hatching/raising process. Both will incubate the eggs and both will help feed the eaglets. This isn’t a small nest either, about 5 feet wide and 2-3 feet deep. Older nests can be much larger with the biggest on record at 9.5 feet wide and 20 feet deep weighing almost 3 tons. The eagles will gather sticks and branches and filler to build a nest up on a secluded tree or cliff side near a water source. They keep the nest within easy access to water to assist with raising the eaglets. Each year they will add more and more to the same nests.

The criteria to return to a nest is if they had success hatching eaglets the previous year. Pairs of eagles will usually return to the same mating territory as the previous year unless there was an issue during the breeding and hatching process.

Bald eagles will mate with the same eagle year after year. However, if one of the mates fails to show up they are usually quick to find another. Reaching maturity at 4-5 years of age there are plenty of other mates in the sky.

Photo by Djo Hm on
Why is that bald eagle brown?

Once bald eagles reach maturity at 4-5 years of age, the brown color will turn to white indicating that they are ready and at a mature mating age.

Where to find out more

If you found the article interesting or helpful in anyway please share it to Facebook or any other social media outlet as it helps me out tremendously.

Keep mother nature alive and prospering, your own livelihood depends on it.

I am an affiliate and links located throughout the article will provide me with a commission on any purchases made.

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Myers Greens is a nursery located in southwest Iowa. With the main goal of providing top quality microgreens and fresh herbs. Follow the blog to keep up to date on what we are growing.

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