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Daily News Analysis

American Bald Eagle

30th June, 2023 Environment

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  • In a 2021 report by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, it is observed that the number of bald eagles in the wild has increased fourfold since 2009.
  • It is considered as one of the biggest success stories of conservation of a species.

Other Details

  • The bird was once facing the risk of extinction and was included in the United States’ list of endangered species.
  • Due to conservation measures the number started improving and it was removed from the said list in June 2009.


  • They were seen as threat to livestock, especially domestic chicken, hence they were hunted.
  • In 18th century feather hats were popularized hence more killing of this bird.
  • Habitat destruction.
  • Use of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) for mosquitos and agricultural pests it severely affected the bald eagle population.
  • It led to nesting failure, which is laying of extremely thin-shelled eggs

History and Background

  • These birds were adopted as the USA’s national symbol in 1782.
  • As per the American Eagle Foundation, there were as many as 100,000 nesting birds at that time.
  • It started declining in the early 1800s due to various factors.
  • Populations kept on declining till about the 1940s.
  • Extensive use of DDT By the mid to late 1940s.
  • By 1963, only 417 nesting pairs were remained and identified in the wild.
  • In 1995, due to conservation efforts, the bald eagle was moved from endangered to threatened status
  • Finally in 2007, they were removed from the endangered species list.
  • Current overall population is roughly 316,700.

Trigger Point for Conservation

  • Rachel Carson’s 1962 book named Silent Spring highlighted detrimental effects of chemical pesticides on environment and bald eagle populations.
  • The book connected various element of survival which includes materialism, scientism, and the technologically engineered control of nature.

Conservation Efforts

  • Migratory Birds Treaty Act came into force in 1918.
  • Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in 1940 was passed with an aim to discourage and punish killing of this bird for feathers and to promote conservation.
  • In 1972, nationwide ban on the use of DDT for agricultural use.
  • Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973 for the conservation of habitat of this species.
  • Also in the 1970s, Captive breeding programmes were launched.
  • Eagle colonies were bred in captivity, including monitoring of fragile eggs and nestlings, at centres by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Hacking practice, a controlled way to raise and release bald eagles into a wild viable environment from artificial nesting towers, was employed.
  • Also there were strict restrictions for human activity around nesting areas of eagles.

Bald Eagle

  • They are also known by their scientific name Haliaeetus leucocephalus.
  • They belong to the family of Accipitridae.
  • There are mainly distributes throughout North American continent found most residing in woods by rivers, lakes.
  • Main diet is fish, turtles, and small mammals such as squirrels and rabbits.
  • It sometimes eat dead animals or steal prey from
  • They can be as long as 43 inches and have a wingspan of around 2.5 metres.
  • They appear dark brown, with a white feathered head and tail.
  • They are the only sea eagle endemic to North America.

Conservation Status

  • These are currently a ‘Least concern’ species as per IUCN.



Consider the following statements about Bald Eagles:

1. These are considered and listed as a threatened species of eagles.

2. Their distribution is mostly limited to North American continent and they are endemic to North America.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A. 1 only

B. 2 only

C. Both 1 and 2

D. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (B)