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Bird Illustrations

Birds of Prey

Bald Eagle, Watercolor Painting


bald eagle, watercolor

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus ieucocephalus), watercolor

About the illustration:
Commissioned by: Wisconsin Sea Grant, University of Wisconsin-Madison

About bald eagles:
Bald eagles are awesome to watch. A great place to go, if you're in the neighborhood, is Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois (see http://www.greatriverroad.com/Pere/PereIndex.htm). In the winter, the bald eagles are all over along the river in Grafton. The confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are nearby. It is an interesting area to visit.

Bald eagles are the U.S. national bird. They are raptors. They eat fish, catching them with their feet. They also eat small birds, rodents, and carrion. They're quite large at about thirty inches in length with a wingspan of about seven feet. Juveniles do not have the white head; they are mostly brown with some white mottling. Unlike Golden Eagles, which juvenile bald eagles resemble, bald eagles do not have feathers extending down the legs. Adult coloring comes in at about the sixth year. Bald eagle nests are huge at up to five feet in diameter. They are built in tops of trees near water. Bald eagles generally engage in monogamous, lifelong pairings. Females lay two eggs in the spring. If both chicks hatch, the more assertive chick will live, as it will take the food causing the second chick to starve. Bald eagles live about twenty or thirty years. Use of DDT, a pesticide, caused weak eggshells. This, illegal shooting, and other human activities endangered the population of bald eagles in the U.S. for years. It is now in the process of being removed from the U.S. federal government's list of endangered species.

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (having a spinal chord)
Class: Aves (birds)
Order: Falconiformes (diurnal birds of prey, meaning birds that hunt during the day primarily using talons)
Family: Accipitridae (includes hawks, eagles, buzzards, kites, and Old World vultures)
Genus: Haliaeetus (sea eagles)
Species: H. leucocephalus

More information about bald eagles:
National Parks Conservation Association, Bald Eagle
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center
National Geographic News, "Bald Eagle Bounces Back After Decades of Persecution"

Bald eagle photographs:

 

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