Norbert – Bald Eagle
Hatched: Spring 2004
Norbert was hatched in 2004, presumably in a wild nest in South Dakota. The story has it that he was found on a golf course stealing golf balls. He was trapped and taken to a Rehabilitation Center in Rapid City, South Dakota. There it was determined that he showed all the behavior of a human imprinted bird. As this behavior would make him a danger to others as well as himself, he was declared non-releasable and placed with the World Bird Sanctuary. He arrived here on December 9, 2004, and after a short settling in period he began the manning and training process.
As you can see from the photo, Norbert has retained some of the dark colored feathers on his head, unlike the majority of Bald Eagles whose heads usually turn completely white by the time they are five years old. Since he is now over ten years old he will most likely keep his distinctive “mask”.
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.