As a kid I loved animals, but it wasn’t until I worked with birds of prey that I knew they were my passion. Now, bald eagles are my favorite animal. Having the opportunity to train and get up close to them is something I look forward to everyday.
Bald eagles are native to the United States. In Washington, D.C., many pairs nest near the Potomac River. Caring for these birds is a unique and rare opportunity because every bald eagle in human care is a rescue. That includes our female, Annie, who was rescued in Maryland, and our male, Tioga, who was rescued in Pennsylvania. It is illegal to breed and keep these birds otherwise.
Since our bald eagles are rescues, we do not always know their ages. From birth to five years old, we can estimate their age based on their plumage, which is mottled brown with white blotches. Once a bald eagle turns five, they have their iconic white feathered head, neck and tail. At this point there is no way to estimate age.
We know Tioga is 23 years old because he was rescued as a fledgling, or young chick who recently left his nest. Annie was rescued as an adult, so we know she was at least 5 years old at the time of her rescue, but she could have been much older. Bald Eagles can live 20 to 30 years in the wild and up to 50 years old in human care.