Bald Eagles

Meet Our Bald Eagles

It’s only fitting that Busch Gardens® Williamsburg, “world’s most beautiful theme park”*, would be home to one the world’s most magnificent birds – the American bald eagle. This soaring symbol of our great nation welcomes guests at Eagle Ridge here in the park.

But forty years ago, the future didn't look so bright for these birds of prey. Back then our national symbol was on its way to extinction, driven by habitat destruction, illegal hunting and pesticides such as DDT contaminating its food sources.

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Today these animals serve as important ambassadors for their species, reminding us of their past struggles and acting as a shining a beacon of hope on their species future.

*As voted every year for 22+ consecutive years by the National Amusement Park Historical Association.

Facts

Bald Eagle Facts

Just look at a bald eagle and you can see one fact for yourself – bald eagles aren’t really bald. They actually have white feathers on their head, neck, and tail. Bald comes from the Old English word balde, meaning “white.” The eagle was named for its white feathers instead of a lack of feathers.

Here are a few other interesting facts about bald eagles:

• Bald eagles often use the same nest year after year, “renovating” it from time to time by adding more twigs and branches. In fact, one nest was found that had been an eagle’s home for 34 years and weighed over two tons.

• Bald eagles can fly 20-40 mph in normal flight. Think that’s fast? You should see them dive, when they can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph. Look out below!

• Visiting our sister parks in Orlando or Tampa? Keep an eye on the sky. More than 80% of the bald eagle population in the southeastern US calls the sunshine state their home.

• Fun fact for kids: Bald eagles can actually swim. They use an overhand movement of the wings that’s a lot like the butterfly stroke. This bird’s got it all.

Connections

Make a Connection

Thousands of people pass by Eagle Ridge at our park every day. But take a minute to stop and talk to an animal care expert or read about the eagles in our care and you’ll find they all have something in common…their stories. And those are worth stopping for.

You see, each of these majestic birds of prey is in our care because an injury has left them unable to survive on their own in the wild.

Eagles like Glacier, who was found foraging for food in an Alaskan fishing village struggling to survive, wounded from a gunshot that would leave him unable to fly again.

Glacier’s wing may have been broken, but his spirit was not. With the help of our animal rescue and rehabilitation team, he and many others have been given help, hope and a caring place to call home. 

Conservation

Conservation

The bald eagle is the national symbol of the United States. So when it fell under the threat of extinction in the 1960s due to pesticide use, habitat loss and other problems created by humans, people took notice.

For decades, the American bald eagle was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. This protection worked, and the species began to recover.

Today, the number of bald eagles has increased so much that in June 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that they be downgraded from “endangered” status to the less urgent status of “threatened” in all but three of the lower 48 states.

The recovery of the American bald eagle is one of the greatest Endangered Species Act success stories, reminding us of the importance of conserving and caring for wildlife and the world we share.

Learn more about our own conservation success stories at the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund website, and learn what you can do to help. 100% of donations go to work for wildlife and wild places.

Q&A

Q&A

Q: How long do bald eagles live?

BG: Bald eagles can live a long life, up to 30 years in the wild and even longer in zoos.

Q: Do male and female bald eagles have white heads?

BG: That’s a great question… especially in the avian community when female birds are sometimes more camouflaged then their bold colored male counterparts. Both mature male and female adults have a white head and tail, solid brown body, and a large, curved, yellow bill. If you see an eagle with blotchy patches of white on their underside and tail, it’s still a juvenile.

Q: Where do bald eagles live?

BG: Their range is quite large. They live throughout North America, from Alaska and Canada south into Florida and Baja, California. Eagles are magnificent hunters, and make their homes near their prey. Eagles live and nest near coastlines and along rivers, lakes, wet prairies and coastal pine lands.

Q. What do bald eagles eat?

BG: Bald eagles are skilled hunters, favoring fish swimming close to the water's surface. They also feed on small mammals, waterfowl, wading birds, and dead animal matter (carrion).

Q. How much do eagles weigh?

BG: Interestingly, female bald eagles weigh about 25% more than males. Mature male bald eagles weigh in around 8-9 lbs, where female bald eagles weigh 10-14 lbs. 

Teacher's Corner

Teacher’s Corner

Whether you’re leading a classroom or home schooling, you’ll find one of the most comprehensive collections of animal education resources online at SeaWorld.org.

From teacher guides to classroom activities to games and coloring pages, this invaluable resource offers free materials to help your students connect with wildlife and wild places.

Be sure not to miss our Emmy Award winning DVD series, Saving a Species, including Birds on the Brink. It’s a wonderful way to give students an in-depth look at American bald eagles and other birds in the conservation spotlight, and help see how all of us can help make a difference in their future.