Eagles are beautiful, majestic birds, but these apex predators are often misconstrued as invulnerable and safe from interference, when in fact they can be exceptionally delicate. Of the more than 60 eagle species in the world, nearly half are considered vulnerable, threatened or endangered and their populations are at grave risk. Even more disturbing is that many of the factors that threaten eagles are man-made, but that also makes those threats easier to overcome once they are understood and... steps are taken to correct the problems. Every birder can help eagles, starting with these easy options…
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Learn All the Eagle Species
Most birders can name at least a few eagle species, but learning more of the widely varied species of these large, powerful birds of prey can help birders become more aware whenever different eagles are mentioned in news stories, conservation issues and sightings reports. Several eagles are official national birds, and knowing where eagles are honored is a great way to start learning more of these birds of prey.
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Preserve Eagle Habitat
As top-level predators, eagles need large swathes of suitable habitat that supports numerous types of prey in order to provide adequate hunting grounds. Supporting wildlife refuges and purchasing duck stamps are both good ways birders can help preserve eagle-friendly habitat, but it is important to remember to help habitat both in the breeding and non-breeding ranges of these birds so they have space that can support their needs year-round.
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Support Raptor Rescue and Rehabilitation Facilities
It takes special training and facilities to work with orphaned, sick or injured eagles, and because many rehabilitation facilities are non-profit organizations, they rely on the generosity of volunteers and donations in order to continue helping birds. It can take many weeks or months of care to return an eagle to health and release it to the wild, and if the support is not adequate, the birds may not be able to be properly cared for as they recover.
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Adopt an Eagle
Many rescue facilities, zoos, aviaries and similar facilities offer guests and supporters the opportunity to symbolically adopt eagles, and those funds are used to help support the chosen bird through captive-breeding programs, species research, habitat restoration and preservation and a variety of other useful programs. In return, supporters often receive information sheets and photographs of their bird, as well as other benefits that help them feel connected to their adopted avian.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Choose Lead-Free Ammunition
Hunters can take great steps in helping eagles and other raptors when they opt for lead-free ammunition. Even conscientious hunters may leave some shell fragments or bullet casings in the offal they remove from a kill, and eagles will eagerly scavenge carcasses for an easy meal. When the birds inadvertently consume residual lead, they can suffer from lead contamination and its toxic effects, which can lead to long-term debilitation and death.
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Reduce Energy Consumption
Many people don't realize that wind turbines, solar plants, power plant exhaust towers and even power lines can be grave threats to large raptors such as eagles, and while it may not seem like the death of a bird or two would be significant to overall eagle populations, as society's energy needs increase, there will be even more power plants that can threaten these birds. By reducing energy use, it is less necessary to increase energy production that can hurt eagles.
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Minimize Chemical Use
The smallest actions can have huge effects, such as applying chemicals to a single lawn or washing them down a drain. Many dangerous chemicals accumulate in the environment and can grow to threaten raptors – a process called biomagnification – and as eagles' prey becomes contaminated, the eagles themselves can suffer. The most familiar example of this is with the pesticide DDT, but other chemicals have been noted as magnifying to dangerous levels that can harm raptors, and reducing chemical... use is essential to protect these birds.
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Join Eagle Nesting Surveys
Eagles reuse the same nesting sites for many years, and volunteers are always needed to carefully and responsibly monitor those sites in order to note when nesting eagles are present, how many eaglets are hatched and how many survive to leave the nest. These population surveys provide invaluable data for ornithologists and can help direct conservation projects to protect areas where eagles are actively nesting.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Learn Other Threats Against Eagles
While the most common threats to eagles are widely recognized, lesser known threats such as vehicle collisions, unintentional imprinting and cultural persecution can be just as deadly to these birds. Because of their slow growth and long maturity periods, it can take eagles many years to recover from population declines, and even small threats can be significant problems and should be taken seriously in order to properly protect eagles.
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Go See Eagles
A great way to help eagle conservation is to visit bald eagle festivals or other events specifically organized to raise awareness of these magnificent raptors and their other eagle cousins. Not only are they great opportunities to see eagles, but these events also often have great information about helping eagles that participants can use. Furthermore, increasing avitourism related to eagles will raise a community's awareness about the importance of these birds, helping create even more... conservation opportunities.