BALD EAGLE

HALIAEETUS LEUCOCEPHALUS

The Brandywine Zoo has two female Bald Eagles. Saphira, hatched on April 16, 2013, came to the Brandywine Zoo on December 18, 2013. She was blown out of her nest during a tornado and broke her wing, which did not heal properly. This injury left her unable to outstreach her left wing fully. However, she is still able to move around successfully without flying and is otherwise physically and mentally healthy. Granite was hatched sometime between 2006 and 2008. She suffers from lead poisoning which is increased levels of the heavy metal lead in an animal’s body. Lead interferes with a variety of body and natural processes. Though unfortunately common in eagles and other animals at the top of the food chain, it is unclear what caused her case of poisoning. She is fully-flighted, but lacks the endurance to fly the long distances required for hunting due to her condition and is determined releasable because of it. Saphira is larger than Granite, and her left wing does not open or close fully, making her look like one wing “droops.”

THREATS & CONSERVATION

Bald eagles were on the Endangered Species list in 1978 due to a dramatic population decline from heavy use of DDT, and hunting. In June 2007, after a spectacular recovery, the bird achieved a status of least concern. Lead poisoning from hunter-shot prey and contaminated watersheds, motor vehicle collisions, and habitat destruction continue to be a threat.

Fun Facts

Both of the Zoo’s bald eagles hatched in the wild and came to us via wildlife rehabilitators.

Granite has lead poisoning, and though fully flighted, cannot endure flying long distances. As a chick, Saphira’s nest was destroyed in a storm, breaking her wing in the ensuing fall. Her left wing cannot open, preventing flight.

Primarily fish-eaters, bald eagles can find themselves in deep water. They can float and “row” with their wings until they reach a bank.