Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 12, 2004

Bald eagle sighted again by HL

By Lynda Jensen

A beautiful bald eagle recently visited the Howard Lake area once again, sighted by Sharon Neumann south of Howard Lake.

Neumann's son, Westen, was able to take video footage of the bird (at right).

The sighting coincides with previous reports of a bald eagle in the same vicinity in March. At that time, the bird was sighted by several people near Highway 12 and near Mallard Pass Lake.

Bald eagles are known to be in the area, breeding along the northern lakes and the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.

They are also one of the most commonly treated predatory birds at the Raptor Center, at the University of Minnesota.

Currently, the Raptor Center is looking into the effects of lead poisoning, the incidence of chemical contamination in nestling eagles, and the location and use of winter roost areas.

A wingspan of 6.5 to 8 feet is common for bald eagles, with a length of 31 to 37 inches.

Bald eagles nest on the edge of rivers, lakes, and sea shores. In winter and on migration they can be found where there is open water attracting sufficient food, and having evening roost sites.

Bald eagles build large stick nests (sometimes weighing more than one ton) that are usually about six feet in diameter and more than six feet tall.

Nests are built near the top of the largest trees near a river or lake.

The birds start nesting in Minnesota in March when the female lays from one to three eggs. Both the male and female share incubation duties. The young hatch after 35 days and grow very quickly being ready to leave the nest at 10 to 12 weeks of age.

Bald eagles commonly feed on fish which they catch themselves, find dead, or pirate from other birds such as ospreys.

They also feed on a variety of carrion or live prey including waterfowl and other birds, turtles, and rabbits. Road-killed deer are a favorite and thus lead to many eagles being hit by cars.

The bald eagle is listed as an endangered species throughout most of the United States, with the exceptions of Alaska, where it is not listed, and Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon and Florida, where it is considered threatened.

In 1995, the bald eagle's status was changed to "threatened" for the entire United States.

In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that the bald eagle be removed from the endangered species list, but this has yet to happen.

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