Bald Eagles Share Incubation Duties

Oct 17, 2012

Discover Nature this week as it’s the perfect time to go out to Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, Duck Creek Conservation Area, Trail of Tears, or anywhere along the Mississippi river to watch for bald eagles as they begin to share incubation duties. Throughout this 35 day period, one parent is always on the nest, not only to keep the eggs warm but to protect them from squirrels and gulls which would relish the chance to break open and eat the eagle’s eggs.

This majestic national symbol, the bald eagle, is the largest of any North American bird. A creature that mates for life, they renew their pair bonds by adding sticks to their nests, which can be up to 15 feet in diameter and are reused year after year. Nests are usually constructed near water, since the birds hunt mostly fish.

The eagle’s eye can be up to twenty times larger in proportion to its body than the human eye. They’re so big in their sockets that there’s little room for them to move, so they have to move their whole head to look around. Even so, the visual acuity of an eagle is up to eight times better than a human’s. While soring hundreds of feet high in the air, an eagle can spot fish swimming underwater and can see a rabbit from up to two miles away. As the eagle swoops down on its prey, the muscles in its eyes continually adjust the curvature of the lens to maintain sharp focus and accurate depth perception until it stretches out those sharp talons to snatch up some lunch.

To keep track of current natural events like when bald eagles begin their incubation duties, you can get your own Natural Events Calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.