By the early 1970s, American bald eagles were near extinction and had become an endangered species. Although extinction is a natural process, the global rate of extinctions has increased alarmingly due to human activities.
For example, the bald eagle’s problems have been caused by the destruction of its habitat (lakes, rivers and marshes), the disturbance of its nests (often large and up to 13 feet deep and 8 feet in diameter), the contamination by pesticides and lead of its prey (fish or carrion), as well as illegal hunting and trapping.
While extinction is eternal, endangered means there is still hope of pulling a species back from the brink. Congress banned the most harmful pesticides in the early 1970s, strict protective laws were enforced, critical eagle habitat was identified and protected, and eagles were reintroduced to areas where they had once thrived. .
In 2007, they were removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species – their recovery has been aided by the help and support of public and private landowners. Today, the breeding range and population size of bald eagles are expanding.
Eagles usually mate for life (reaching maturity around 4 or 5 years old), but if one disappears or dies, the survivor finds another mate, with a courtship display including special calls and displays in flight.
More information about bald eagles in Missouri can be found online at missourconservationorg.