October 29, 2012 by: Ann Harwood
Beautiful Bald Eagles near Bed & Breakfast, Saint Ignatius, Montana
This is the bald eagle that "posed" for me near Bear Spirit Lodge a couple of different times recently. I think he must be a young male who likes getting his picture taken! Most of the seasons of the year, I see bald eagles here in the Mission Valley in western Montana.
When the bald eagle was taken off the Endangered Species List in 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 10,000 pairs were soaring through the skies in the lower 48 states. In Montana, it is estimated that there are over 325 pairs now.
While no longer considered endangered, eagles are protected under other federal laws including Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The bald eagles are beautiful here, and a wonderful reminder of our country's national symbol of freedom.
Some interesting bald eagle facts:
- An eagle's eye is almost as large as a human's, but its sharpness is at least four times that of a person with perfect vision.
To help them soar, eagles use thermals which are rising currents of warm air and up-drafts generated by terrain such as valley edges or mountain slopes. Soaring is accomplished with very little wing-flapping, enabling them to conserve energy. Long-distance migration flights are accomplished by climbing high in a thermal, then gliding downward to catch the next thermal where the process is repeated.
- Bald eagles can fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet. During level flight, a bald eagle can achieve speeds of about 30 to 35 mph.
Bald eagles have 7,000 feathers. Eagle feathers are lightweight yet extremely strong, hollow yet highly flexible. They protect the bird from the cold as well as the heat of the sun, by trapping layers of air.
- The feathers enable eagles to live in extremely cold environments. Eagles do not have to migrate to warmer areas each year to fulfill temperature requirements, they migrate to available food supplies.
- A lone eagle feather is believed to convey great power. North American Indians incorporated the eagle's primaries and tail feathers into their ceremonies and legends. Native Americans can have a "Use of Feathers" permit. At the Arlee Pow Wow each week of July 4th, the eagle feathers adorn the dancers & give them great strength & power.