Happy Independence Day! On this great day of national pride, it seemed like the perfect time to share an image of a Bald Eagle. Now synonymous with the United States, the Bald Eagle became the unofficial symbol of our country in 1782 when the Great Seal of the United States was adopted with a Bald Eagle prominently featured. Not everyone was a fan, with Benjamin Franklin rallying hard for the turkey to be our national bird as he believed it was “more respectable”. Thankfully, supporters of the Bald Eagle won in the end and when George Washington was made our country’s first president in 1789, the Bald Eagle was made the official National Bird.
Bald Eagles are creatures of habit, using the same nest year after year. This pair of Bald Eagles has been nesting at Honeymoon Island State Park for the last several years and in late December became parents again. Bald Eagles typically have 2 eggs each year and incubate them for approximatley 35 days. The new chicks stay on the nest for 10 – 12 weeks, although they are usually fully grown after 9 weeks. This photo was taken when the eaglets were roughly 6 weeks old, with what looks like a voracious appetite. One of the parents was dutifully feeding the chicks pieces of fish while the other was out hunting. After a few minutes, the other parent returned with more food, and the chicks continued their feast for quite some time.
As mentioned in a previous post this week, the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park gives visitors the opportunity to see native Florida wildlife up close. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the endangered species of the state and what types of conservations efforts are underway to help the species. The park also serves as a rehabilitation center for injured wildlife with the hope that after recovery, the animals will return to the wild. When their injuries prevent this, some of the animals find a new home at the park where they are provided a habitat and diet that is as natural as possible. While it is unfortunate to see majestic birds of prey like this Bald Eagle unable to soar in the wild, it is nice to know that they are given a second chance in educational environments like the park.