All About Birds
Bald Eagle (Accipitridae haliaeetus)
This majestic bird is our national symbol and was an endangered species for many years until increased awareness and conservation efforts enabled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to downgrade its status in most parts of the U.S. during the 1990's. They prefer to live and nest near coastal regions, lakes, rivers and wet prairies. This majestic bird is fast and graceful through the air normally flying at speeds of 20-40 mph and diving at speeds of up to 100 mph. The Bald Eagle is also a fierce predator feeding on small mammals, rodents, wading birds, fish and carrion.
Eagles are actually accomplished swimmers and use an overhand movement of their wings similar to the butterfly stroke. Mature adults can reach a length of 3 feet with a 7 foot wingspan and weigh up to 14 lbs. Bald eagles are identified by their white head and tail, a solid brown body and large curved yellow bill. Their lifespan may reach 30 years in the wild.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
This bird of prey is popularly known for its preference of nesting in major cities on the ledges of tall buildings or under bridges. Many websites now offer web cams and constant video surveillance of their nesting areas. Peregrine falcons also nest on high cliffs and bluffs which overlook rivers and coastlines with several nesting pairs currently residing in Acadia National Park. This species of raptor is also known as a spectacular hunter. Using high speed dives (in which they have been recorded to reach speeds up to 200 mph!), they feed almost exclusively on other birds that they snatch in mid-air.
Adult Peregrines generally have a dark blue head, back and wings with a dark blue tail that is lightly barred. Legs and talons tend to be bright yellow in color while their underside is lighter in color with dark horizontal streaks that run across the breast, belly and legs. Mature adults have a wingspan of up to 45-46 inches and weigh between 1-2 pounds. Peregrines are found
throughout the world and many populations are migratory and will travel great distances. Through active breeding programs and reintroduction into the wild, this falcon is no longer considered endangered and was taken off the endangered species list in 1999. More than 300 varieties of birds can be seen over Maine and in the gulf, some of the larger and more exotic not already mentioned include the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk and Broad-winged Hawk.