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Published On: Thu, Jul 28th, 2016

Our Country’s Big Birds Soaring Through the Skies

Our country is home to some of the world’s most amazing birds. In fact, listing all the birds of Americas would be nearly impossible. Let’s take a look, therefore, at some of the truly big birds that soar in our skies.

The Golden Eagle

Calling all of North America its home, but found mainly in the west and north, it is a bird that likes mountainous ranges. It builds a nest from straw and sticks in the top of trees, or on rocky ledges that cannot be accessed. It eats prairie dogs, ground squirrels, rabbits, mice, and so on. They catch them by swooping down from the sky. Often, they hunt in pairs. The female usually lays two white eggs, at times blotched with brown spots. It takes about a month to incubate them, and newborn eagles, known as eaglets, are white and fuzzy in look. They stay in the nest for three months, after which all their feathers have come in and the can soar the skies and start hunting. Telling the difference between a young gold eagle and a young bald eagle is possible thanks to the feathered legs, which are seen only in the golden eagle. Unfortunately, the eagle is a preferred rifleman target.

Nova - an American golden eagle  photo/ J. Glover Atlanta, Georgia

Nova – an American golden eagle photo/ J. Glover Atlanta, Georgia

The California Condor

The California Condor is the largest of the big birds of North America. Once commonly found in Mexico, Oregon, and California, they are now much rarer. The birds mate for life, and when one of the two dies, the other spends the rest of its life alone. Unfortunately, the condor nearly became extinct when farmers tried to poison coyotes with meat, which was picked up by condors again. This killed many off, leaving the surviving ones as mateless birds. They nest in recesses or in the hollow top of tree stumps. Females generally lay just one egg, which means repopulating the race is incredibly difficult. The young have yellow bills and white down until they get their feathers, at which point they have a black bill and neck, and sooty gray feathers. The birds are very gentle and excellent parents. Unfortunately, in 1987, the California Condor was officially declared extinct in the wild, and now exclusively lives in zoos.

The Turkey Vulture

Last but not least, there is the turkey vulture, one of the most graceful of all birds. They have effortless flight, long rounded tails, and vastly widespread wings. They can soar for hours, creating a beautiful and enchanting silhouette. If a turkey vulture does spot a prey, it instantly drops down, attracting other vultures in the area to the pray. Once they are all together, they kill the prey and feast as a community. Turkey vultures are very important to the ecosystem, as they live on animal refuse, essentially keeping the ground clear. While there are quite a few remaining, their numbers are dwindling. This is, like with the California Condor, because they ate poisoned meat, placed outside to lower the numbers of predatory animals.

Guest Author: Lolita Di

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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