Patriot – Bald Eagle
Hatched: March 17, 1995
In March 1995, Patriot’s parents used the same nest tree they had used for the past four years at Clarence Cannon Wildlife Refuge. A violent storm in mid-April brought the tree down. Refuge staff responded quickly; two of the chicks were already dead. The one surviving chick was in poor condition due to being in the water for at least an hour. She was treated for pneumonia, gained seven pounds in two weeks and regained her strength. Because of the lung damage she sustained, she would not have survived in the wild.
Patriot has become a real favorite of staff and visitors alike. She has appeared in programs at Grant’s Farm, Sea World of Ohio, Clarksville, and a multitude of other eagle programs throughout the Midwest. She was also one of the two eagles standing at home plate during the national anthem, for the opening game of the baseball Cardinals’ run for the Division title in 2004.
Species: Bald Eagle
Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Description: Adult Bald Eagles have white heads and tails with dark brown bodies and wings. Their legs and bills are bright yellow. Juveniles are mostly dark brown and the white head and tail are obtained at 4 to 5 years of age. The term “bald” refers to the Old English word “balde” which means white.
Sex: Males and females are similar in color but females are larger in size.
Age: Bald eagles have lived up to 50 years in captivity. Their life expectancy in the wild is 15 to 25 years.
Weight: 8-15 lbs.
Habitat: In Missouri, throughout the nesting season, bald eagles are rather solitary. During winter migration, however, they congregate near open water in tall trees for spotting prey and night roosts for sheltering.
Status: Once endangered by hunting and pesticides, Bald Eagles have flourished under protection.
Range: Bald Eagles are found in Canada and the United States.
Behavior: Bald Eagles are powerful fliers—soaring, gliding, and flapping over long distances. In one of several spectacular courtship displays, a male and female fly high into the sky, lock talons, and cartwheel downward together, breaking off at the last instant to avoid crashing to earth. Bald Eagles build some of the largest bird nests — typically 5 to 6 feet in diameter and 2 to 4 feet tall and can take up to 3 months to build.
Diet: Fish of many kinds constitute the centerpiece of the Bald Eagle diet (common examples include salmon, herring, shad, and catfish), but these birds eat a wide variety of foods depending on what’s available like carrion, waterfowl and mammals. Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. A Bald Eagle will harass a hunting Osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up.
Vocalization: The Bald Eagle emits surprisingly weak-sounding calls—usually a series of high-pitched whistling or piping notes.
- The Bald Eagle has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782 and was chosen over Benjamin Franklin’s suggestion of the wild turkey
- Each fall, thousands of these great birds migrate south from nesting ranges in Canada and the Great Lakes states to feed on fish on the Mississippi River in this Bi-State area of Missouri and Illinois.