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Appreciating the bald eagle

Estherville News Editorial

March 9, 2016
Estherville News Staff , Estherville News

The bald eagle was adopted as the national bird of the United States 1782. It has been the embodiment of freedom, strength and majesty. Being on the verge of extinction, the Congress passed the Eagle Protection Act in 1940, which prohibited the killing, selling, or possessing the species.

After WWII, many eagles were affected by DDT, which was at the time, a new pesticide used to control mosquitos and other insects. The pesticide would be washed into waterways and was then absorbed by fish, a common food source of the eagles. By eating the fish, the eagle would become poisoned by the DDT, which also interfered with the bird's ability to produce strong eggshells. The eggs would then break during incubation or fail to hatch.

By 1963, there were only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles remaining. In 1972, DDT was banned in the U.S., and it wasn't until 1977 that Iowa, once again, had an eagle nest. Since then, bald eagles have nested in 42 Iowa counties along 30 river systems.

The iconic bird was taken off the Federal Endangered Species list in 2007. Today, if you pay close attention, you can see a bald eagle or two soaring through the skies right here in Emmet County.

This majestic creature measures 34 to 43 inches in body length and possesses a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet. They weight 6.5 to 14 pounds, and are most abundant in Alaska and Canada. They can lift about four 4 pounds. Immature eagles are dark and lack the distinctive white markings of a bald eagle until they are about five years old.

The bald eagle constructs one of the biggest bird's nests. The largest nest on record was 9.5 feet wide and 20 feet wide and it weighed more than two tons. They are also believed to mate for life.

With such beauty and strength, it is hard not to be in awe of the bald eagle. The great opportunity for area residents is that these giant birds can be seen right here in Emmet County if you know where to look. Area residents are fortunate to have a number of acres in conservation, in which species such as the bald eagle can thrive. With the days warming, the surrounding wildlife habitats provide a great reason to take the family outside and teach them to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them.



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