The Chesapeake Conservancy and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center would like to give special thanks to Skyline Technology Solutions, who is managing the video stream for us, Earth Security Electronics, who installed and set up the camera, and the Shared Earth Foundation.
Our national bird, bald eagles are found all across North America, from northern Mexico to Alaska & Canada. As birds of prey whose primary source of food is fish, bald eagles are most likely to be found near large bodies of open water. They prefer to nest in old-growth trees where they can have a birds-eye view of any dangers that may abound. In these chosen trees you might be surprised to find that bald eagles are known to build the largest tree nests ever recorded for any animal species. These nests have been found to be over 8 feet wide! So be prepared to see lots of sticks being delivered.
How fast do you think a bald eagle can fly? The answer...43 mph while flapping and almost 100 mph when diving for prey! These strong fliers use thermal convection currents (rising warm air) to soar for long distances during migration or hunting. Speaking of hunting, bald eagles love the Chesapeake so much because of the abundance of shad and bass which they enjoy feasting on. Expect to see a lot of fish being brought home for supper, but also keep in mind that in the Cheapeake Bay area bald eagles are the number one natural predator of raccoons. Their ability to hunt fish so well may be due to the fact that they have special spike-like structures on their talons (called spicules) which allow them to grasp even the slimiest fish. It also doesn't hurt that they have gripping power ten times greater than humans!
Bald eagles mate for life and are considered early breeders, so expect some action sooner than later. They tend to have nests built by mid-February, and have eggs laid only a couple weeks later. The eggs usually hatch from mid-April to early May with the young fledging by early July. The Conservancy is dedicated to making sure that these noble Bay residents continue to inhabit the shores of the Bay and its tributaries by working to protect river corridors and maintain healthy fish populations.
To learn more about bald eagles and the Bay's other amazing creatures use our National Wildlife Refuge App, or visit one of our regions many National and State parks and refuges to see them in the wild!