“99” is an adult, female bald eagle. She does not yet have the full white head and tail that these eagles are known for, but will complete her transformation by age 5. She weighs a little over 11 lbs., which may not seem that heavy, until you consider that raptors have hollow bones. The wingspan of a bald eagle is about 6-7 feet long.
The emblem bird of the U.S., Bald Eagles are among the largest of raptors and sit at the top of the food chain. They are known as sea eagles due to their love of fishing and their bold, sharply curved beaks. Eagles also eat small mammals and will go for an easy meal of road kill. These predators have a talon gripping strength of 500 pounds per square inch (PSI), making them very successful hunters.
Once endangered, Bald Eagles have made a comeback and can be found across most of North America. They prefer coasts, rivers, and large lakes, but will also winter in some very dry western valleys. Many southern and coastal adults are permanent residents (as far north as Alaska’s Aleutian Islands). Bald Eagles from the far northern interior migrate south in winter. Immature eagles from Florida may migrate far north (even to Canada) during their first summer.
Many Bald Eagles mate for life, constructing nests 180 ft. or more above the ground and taking turns hunting and feeding their young.