Brooke Beam, PhD
Ohio State University Extension, Highland County
Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator
September 26, 2018
I enjoy the outdoors and watching animals in their natural habitat. On my commute to the Highland County Extension Office, I frequently see deer, turkeys, and a variety of birds. However, this week was different as I saw an American Bald Eagle near the Highland County and Clinton County line on OH 72. The bald eagle I saw was enjoying its breakfast of roadkill and was not in a photogenic mindset.
The bald eagle is an endangered species success story, as 40 years ago it was in danger of extinction, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, the bald eagle was removed from the list of endangered species in 2007 due to an increase in its population. As of 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated the number of bald eagle breeding pairs in Ohio to be around 125. Bald eagles have been increasing in numbers due to the banning of DDT, protecting nests, prohibiting the killing of bald eagles, and improving water quality in lakes and rivers across the country.
While this was the first bald eagle I have seen, there have been other sightings of bald eagles in Highland County at Rocky Fork and Paint Creek State Parks. Nests of bald eagles in southwestern Ohio is something that has occurred due to the repopulation of the species.
The United States adopted the Great Seal of the United States 1782, which features a bald eagle. Since 1782, the bald eagle has been featured on many American symbols including our currency, federal seals, and military insignia. While we now recognize the bald eagle as a symbol of strength and freedom, there was a debate among the founding fathers on whether the bald eagle was a good representation of the country. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter questioning the choice of the bald eagle instead of a turkey as the National Bird.
Bald eagles are unique to North America. They like to live near bodies of water where they can find fish, waterfowl, and other small animals to consume. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, their nests can reach up to 10 feet across and can weigh up to half a ton. The birds mate for life and can live for 15 to 25 years in the wild. Bald eagles gradually change from a mixture of brown and white feathers to having the iconic white head and tail once they reach maturity around five years of age. A bald eagle can weigh up to 14 pounds and have a wingspan of eight feet.
So, keep an eye on the sky this fall and you too may see the National Bird of the United States soaring over Highland County.
- Thursday, October 25, 2018, 6:30 P.M., Producer Stockyards, Hillsboro, Ohio
Call your local Ohio State University Extension Office to register for the BQA training. The Highland County Extension Office can be reached at 937-393-1918.