Bald Eagle Flies on the Fourth of July


The young bald eagle raised in Anthony Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley is celebrating its independence, flying short distances from the nest.

“Our eaglet, believed to be a male, has fledged just in time for the 4th of July!  How patriotic is that?” said East Bay Regional Park District Wildlife Program Manager Doug Bell.

A team of park district staff, biologists and volunteers have been monitoring the nest since April. One reported on July 1, “Our little friend is flying!  At 3:45 p.m. while Mom was on the ‘fishing perch’, Dad came over the nest dangling a fish and soaring about.  I could hear our youngster chirping somewhere behind Mom and out of my view.  As I brought the boat around the fishing perch, I watched our fledgling flying approximately 150 meters back towards the nest where Dad had dinner!”

This is the second year that this pair of bald eagles has nested and successfully raised a chick in a protected area near Lake Chabot. The lake is regularly stocked with fish, making it an excellent source of food. The eagles are visible from a boat on Lake Chabot, or from across the lake along West Shore Trail at Alder Point or on Chabot Dam.

The American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was adopted as the official bird emblem of the United States of America in 1782. The bald eagle was chosen because of its majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and because it is the only eagle unique to North America. Bald eagles are found throughout most of North America, from Alaska and Canada to northern Mexico. About half of the world's 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska. Combined with British Columbia's population of about 20,000, the northwest coast of North America is by far their greatest stronghold for bald eagles.  In the lower 48 states, bald eagles suffered a DDT-induced population crash in the middle of the last century, with fewer than 400 pairs remaining by the early 1960s.  Their populations have since recovered in many areas, thanks to the banning of DDT in 1972. In the wild, a bald eagle may live 30years (longer in captivity). A full-grown bald eagle has a wingspan up to 7 feet. They fly up to 30 miles an hour and can dive at 100 miles an hour! Eagles feed primarily on fish, supplemented by small mammals, waterfowl, and carrion.

Eagles usually mate for life but will take a new mate if one dies. An established pair will use the same nest for many years. Over time some nests become enormous - they can reach a diameter of 9 feet and weigh as much as 2 tons. The female lays 2 or 3 eggs and both parents share incubation and guard them diligently against predators (such as raccoons, great horned owls and ravens). While the chicks are small, the parents move about the nest with their talons balled up into fists to avoid harming them.

eagles-1-350w  eagles-2-350w

Bald eagle adult and juvenile June 5, 2013 at Lake Chabot Regional Park, Hayward, CA.
Click on photos to view larger image. > Photos by Mary Malec

Carolyn Jones
(510) 544-2217