The Eagle: Eagles are found all over the world, with the golden eagle having perhaps the widest distribution.
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Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Eagle

The Eagle

The Eagle by BriarRose

My maiden name is Arnold, a good old-fashioned Germanic name that arrived in England with the Normans and replaced the Anglo-Saxon version, Earnweald, which had existed in the British Isles since the seventh century. My ancestors eventually wandered into Wales and from there to America, but wherever they went and however they spelled it, the name had the same meaning: eagle power.

Eagles are found all over the world, with the golden eagle having perhaps the widest distribution. Austria, Germany, Egypt, and Portugal have eagles on their national flags; Serbia, Montenegro and Albania adopted a double-headed eagle for their symbols.

The Mexican flag features a left facing golden eagle holding a snake in its beak. This symbol dates back to Aztec times when the gods instructed the Aztecs to seek a new place to live. When the searchers saw a snake-eating eagle perched atop a prickly pear cactus on an island in the middle of a lake, they knew they were home. This site became Mexico City.

Only one country in the world has a bald eagle as a national symbol (USA) and only two countries in the world are home to bald eagles: the United States and Canada.

The scientific name, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, breaks down in Greek to mean “Sea Eagle White Head.” Bald eagles don’t develop their distinctive white heads and tail feathers until they are mature or approximately five years old. Eagles mate for life and return to the same nest year after year, adding to it until long used nests weigh hundreds of pounds.

One nest was estimated to be thirty feet high and weigh in at 4,000 pounds. Bald eagles in the wild can live as long as thirty years; if one of a pair dies, the other will seek a new mate. Many eagles prefer to migrate to Alaska for the summer, returning to the lower forty-eight states to winter. In warm areas, bald eagles mate and produce eggs in the winter.

Less than fifty years ago, this magnificent bird almost went extinct in North America. Not only was its native habitat destroyed as the virgin forests of the continent were logged, but the foods it preferred were decreased by overhunting and overfishing. Eagles and other raptors were regularly shot by landowners who believed the birds threatened livestock.

Perhaps the deadliest toll was taken by the increased usage of DDT, an insecticide that was eaten by prey species and in turn by the eagles. The poison built up in adult eagles, resulting in the females laying thin shelled eggs that shattered long before the nestlings could hatch.

Hazards associated with DDT were recognized by scientists in the early 1940s but it wasn’t until 1972 that the newly formed Environmental Pollution Agency banned its use in the USA. Other countries followed suit and in 2001, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants drafted a document aimed at eventual worldwide elimination or restriction of DDT and other environmentally detrimental chemicals.

In addition to banning DDT, the United States government placed eagles on the endangered species list. This move meant prohibition on killing eagles and taking measures to protect eagle nesting sites.   Improvements in the quality of water resources and habitat followed and over the next few decades, the bald eagle population increased to safer levels.

By BriarRose

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Comments

noble birds. Let's hope they continue to be protected.

Posted by: wychiewoman on 21/03/2015 12:30:00

 

A great informative article there, thanks for that.

Posted by: Ryewolf on 07/04/2015 09:50:00

 

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