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SV: BALD EAGLE! yikes!
The Bald is certainly the largest resident eagle in the US and Canada.
Stellers Sea Eagle is quite a bit larger, but as other have pointed out,
not a resident. It is also in my opinion rather clumsy-looking, and I
would suggest that the Bald is aesthetically the finest of the
Haliaeetus eagles (I've seen them all except sanfordi)
However there are actually two other eagles that are marginally resident
in North America and also marginally larger than the Bald. The otherwise
Eurasian White Tailed Eagle breeds in small numbers in Greenland (it is
very closely related to the Bald), and incidentally also occurs as
subfossil on Hawaii. There is also perhaps still one or two pairs of
Harpy Eagles hanging on in Chiapas and Veracruz in southern Mexico.
As for the genus Haliaetus being 27 million years old, i. e. from the
Oligocene, I strongly doubt it. The oldest fossil I know of that might
be a Haliaetus is Haliaeetus piscator from the Miocene of France (c. 15
million years). Absolutely certain Haliaeetus fossils only occur in the
Pliocene as far as I am aware.
I do know how overwhelming a Haliaeetus eagle can be very close up. I
was once standing near a cliff at a large lake in Sweden counting ducks,
when a White-Tailed Eagle that had been roosting unnoticed in the forest
behind me suddenly flew out just over my head. It literally almost made
me fall over the cliff edge.
Från: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] För B tH
Skickat: den 3 september 2009 17:57
Ämne: BALD EAGLE! yikes!
I live within a quarter-mile of what once was the largest
entirely-excavated man-made lake in the world. I am sure by now Lake
Paul Wallace has been surpassed - it's still a fair-sized lake.
So anyway about an hour ago I was outside checking on the canteloupes
when this huge shadow goes over me - it's either aliens landing or a
hawk, I think - lots of red-tailed hawks and a few ospreys here. But I
look up and it is a BALD EAGLE - white head, white tail, and it was low
enough to distinguish the eye. He/she made a few passes completely
ignoring me (pretty sure it knew it could take me out at any time) and
then the little light bulb goes on in my head - GET THE CAMERA, STUPID!
I got back out and it was cruising much higher in the air - managed to
get two pics with very little color on the bird. This is only the
second time I've seen one in the wild - the other instance was in the
late Seventies at NASA in Florida when one took off out of a tree
looking like a small Cesna aircraft. Huge birds.
I went searching for some info on them on the web and came across two
interesting statements - one that they may be as old as 28 million years
as a genus and that they are the second largest eagle in N.A. When I
was growing up textbooks listed the bald eagle as number one, but now
the roles of it and the golden eagle are reversed? They find a huge
golden eagle specimen in the recent past?
Anyway, the avian-dino descendent thrill of my day! Some good
bird-watchers with a telephoto lens could probably get some good feeding
shots of them out on the lake.