Eagles of the De Witt Birds of Prey Facility

Found throughout the United States and Canada, Bald Eagles are large, stocky birds found near open water. They hunt from a perch or while in flight and often eat fish and other waterfowl, but are also known to steal food from other birds of prey.

Bald Eagles are active scavengers. They have large yellow beaks and feet. In flight, their large wings appear straight-edged and are held flat. Adults have a white head and tail with a brown body. Immature eagles are brown with white feathers throughout, usually until five years old. Sometimes immatures are mistaken for Golden Eagles, which are rare in the Eastern US. Groups of Bald Eagles congregate near water where prey is abundant, such as suitable areas along the Great Lakes.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there were 835 nesting pairs in Michigan in 2017. Only three counties in Michigan do not have an identified nesting pair of bald eagles.

The ODC acquired this eagle as an adult in 2011. It was likely struck by a car, it lost a toe and sustained a wing injury which prevents it from surviving in the wild.

They typically construct a nest of sticks up to fifteen feet across, usually in a tree near water, the nests are reused each year.

During migration, Bald Eagles can fly at speeds of 35-45 mph and drop to 30 mph while carrying fish.

The ODC acquired this juvenile eagle in 2015, after he fell out of his nest near Saginaw Bay while trying to fledge. As a result, he has permanent damage to his right wing which prevents him from returning to the wild.

Found throughout the northern hemisphere, Golden Eagles are large, long-winged, brown birds. Unlike the Bald Eagle, Golden Eagles have feather-covered legs. Adults have brown eyes, gray beaks, and a golden tint on the back of their neck. Juveniles have white patches at the base of the tail.

Juvenile Bald Eagles are often mistaken for Golden Eagles, which are rare in the Eastern United States. Golden Eagles prefer open country and avoid stretches of forest or developed areas.

They typically hunt from the air, often in spectacular dives. Jack rabbits are their main prey source, but will hunt other small mammals, birds, and reptiles. They are also capable of taking down sheep, deer, or other large mammals.

Golden Eagles can fly at speeds up to 200 mph in a dive and 120 mph in a chase. In migration, they will fly at speeds of 28-35 mph.

They construct a large stick nest 8-10 feet across, lined with leaves or brush. They are often located on cliffs though occasionally in trees.

The ODC acquired this Golden Eagle in 2007. He was brought to Michigan State University’s veterinary hospital from the UP near Whitefish Point with a damaged toe. It is thought that he became trapped in a small game trap. His hallux (hind toe) on his right foot was amputated. The loss of this toe severely impairs his ability to hunt and requires that he be held in captivity.