eagle,Image created by Hope Rutledge

Bald Eagle Feathers

   Bald eagles have 7,000 feathers. Feathers consist of interlocking microscopic structures that are light, but very strong. Layers of feathers trap air to insulate birds against cold and protect them from rain.

Use of feathers permit.

Bald eagle, photographed by Hope Rutledge

Bald eagle, photographed by Hope Rutledge

   Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and Conservation Measures - The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

If I find a bald eagle feather, can I keep it?

It is illegal to possess an eagle feather or any other part of an eagle. If you find an eagle feather, you must give it to the proper authorities. Please contact the National Eagle Repository at 303-287-2110 for more information.

Bald eagle, photographed by Hope Rutledge
Primary or flight feathers.

   Rounded at the tip and widely spread, the primary feathers control lift and directional movement. The strength of the primary "flight" feathers is astounding, especially the follicle holding each feather while enduring atmospheric pressure. The airplane wing shape of an eagle's wing allows for lift; a necessity for flight. Layered feather positioning aid in streamlining the wing in oncoming air flows. Strong lightweight layered feathers also serve to preserve body heat in extremely cold environments as well as to shield against overheating. Tail feathers serve as a rudder and stabilize flight movement.

Bald eagle, photographed by Hope Rutledge

   Eagles do not fly as fast as some raptors, but make up the difference with endurance and the ability to soar for long periods of time. To help them soar, eagles use thermals, which are rising currents of warm air and up-drafts generated by terrain, such as valley edges or mountain slopes. Soaring is accomplished with very little wing-flapping, enabling them to conserve energy. Long-distance migration flights are accomplished by climbing high in a thermal, then gliding downward to catch the next thermal, where the process is repeated. Several eagles soaring in a thermal together is described as a "kettle of eagles."

Bald eagle, photographed by Hope Rutledge

   The dark brown and white color contrast of adult bald eagles can be seen from far distances, which could aid in establishing and maintaining a nesting territory by asserting their presence to other eagles.

   The information and photos on this web site may be used for student projects as long as neither are placed on other websites. The photographs are copyrighted by Hope Rutledge, the owner and author of the American Bald Eagle Information website, and are NOT available for other websites, photo galleries or commercial use of any kind.

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