The Bald Eagle
The majestic bald eagle is a valuable member of the ecosystem here in the Pacific Northwest. Bald eagles can have a wingspan of up to 8.5 feet and can range from 6.5 to 14 pounds, females usually being larger than their male counterparts. Despite what their name suggests, bald eagles are not bald—they get their name from the white feathers that cover their heads. Although they are recognized for this distinctive coloring, young bald eagles are brown and white spotted and do not achieve their full plumage until they are four or five years old.
Bald eagles are native to North America, with habitats ranging from central Alaska to the Atlantic coast of the United States. Bald eagles typically nest near large bodies of water and can be found in areas such as marshes and grasslands. There are several bald eagle nests at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge—located just a few miles east of here—so be sure to visit and witness these mighty birds in action.
Fish are a primary food source for bald eagles, making the Columbia River a very important feeding ground for this species. Their diet also includes small mammals like mice, squirrels, prairie dogs, raccoons, and rabbits. Bald eagles are known to secure their food by swooping down quickly and capturing their prey in their large talons.
“Birds of a feather flock together” does not apply to this mighty creature. Bald eagles are independent, making them different from most other birds. Although they do not usually gather in groups, bald eagles have been known to mate for life.
Bald eagles are also known for their sharp eyesight—it is one of the strongest in the animal kingdom and is estimated to be four to eight times stronger than any human’s. Although an eagle may only weigh in at around 10 pounds, its eyes are roughly the same size as a human’s—making it easy for them to spy their prey from very far distances.
Bald eagles can live up to 30 years in the wild, and by continuing to preserve their habitats in the Pacific Northwest, we can ensure that they are a part of the landscape for many years to come.
Bald eagles are easy to identify when they sore high in the sky. Their wings are almost flat while other birds hold their wings in a V shape known as a dihedral.
Bald eagles partner for life and return to the same nest annually. They add 2 to 3 inches of new material to their nest every year.
About the Artist
Heather Söderberg-Greene is an artist and sculptor living in Cascade Locks, Oregon. Heather’s father was a welder, and she began welding at the young age of seven. She has always had a passion for wildlife and finds inspiration in nature. This bald eagle was hand-sculpted by Heather and took six months to complete. It gets its bronze color through a controlled oxidation process that is similar to rusting. The statue is life-sized and has a 5-foot wingspan! Learn more about the artist, visit HeatherSoderberg.com.