Following a dramatic decline caused by pesticides, our national bird, the bald eagle, has made a tremendous return in the region. In fact, Charles County has the second largest population of nesting eagle pairs in the State of Maryland.
Massive nests are 4—5 feet wide and made of large sticks and usually located in the upper portions of tall pine or hardwood trees. Nest are made in late fall and by February or early March the eagles lay a clutch of one to three eggs. Since they lay their eggs during the cold winter season, it very important not to disturb the eagles as they protect their eggs from the harsh weather.
Eggs typically hatch in late March to early April. The eagle chick spends approximately 12 weeks in the nest before learning to fly. Once a chick has learned to fly, the adult eagles will take the next 6 weeks to teach their young how to hunt and fish.
Bald eagles are primarily fish eaters, but they rarely enter the water, instead they snatch their prey from the surface with their razor sharp talons. And, they can often be seen "stealing" a fish from the slightly smaller (and unhappy) osprey.
Height: up to 3 feet tall
Wingspan: 6 to 7-1/2 feet
Voice: Squeaking cackling with thin squeals.
Color: All-over dark plumage is characteristic in the
first year eagle. In the second and third years, a molted plumage and a white belly are evident. At four years, the eagle begins to molt into the first adult plumage. In the first three stages, there is a white line on the underwing that is not present in the adult eagle. It take four years before the bald eagle reaches maturity and displays their signature white head and tail.
(Image of the Great Seal of the United States.)
An American Emblem
On June 20, 1782 the bald eagle was selected as the emblem for the United States of America. Folklore tells us that the bald eagle was chosen because at one of the first early morning battles of the Revolution the eagles awake and flew from their nests. During the course of the battle they circled overhead screeching while the patriots fought on.
The Great Seal of the United States shows a wide-spread eagle, faced front, having on his breast a shield with thirteen perpendicular red and white stripes, surmounted by a blue field with the same number of stars. In his right talon the eagle hold an olive branch, in his left a bundle of thirteen arrows, and in his beach he carries a scroll inscribed with the Latin motto: "E Pluribus Unum." Translated to English, "Out of many, one," is a reference to the original thirteen colonies united into one nation.
The eagle appears on the seals of many of
States, on most of our gold and silver coinage, ans is used in a great deal for decorative patriotic purposes.
(Logos for Friendship Farm Park and Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium.)
Charles County Office of Tourism
For more information the Charles County Office of Tourism at 800 766-3388 or 800 SO MD Fun. Funding provided by the National Park Service.
Bald eagle photos courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.