Historic Markers Across Alabama

Return of a Native

Marker ID:  
Location: Joe Wheeler Bird Site #3 and boat docking in Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, AL
County: Lauderdale
Coordinates: N 34° 49.293    W 087° 18.944
  34.82155    -87.31573333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Return of a Native

When the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources began a Bald Eagle Restoration Project in 1984, Bald Eagles had not successfully nested in Alabama since 1949. Thanks to these restoration efforts, Bald Eagle populations increased and today they nest all across the state. Once in danger of extinction, Bald Eagles made a tremendous comeback not only in Alabama but across the country.

In the fall, there is an influx of Bald Eagles into Alabama from northern states and Canada. These migrants spend the winter in Alabama enjoying moderate temperatures before returning north in the spring.

Historically, Bald Eagles nested in Alabama's Tennessee Valley and the state's coastal region. The population dwindled in the 1950's and 1960s due mainly to the devastating effects of DDT poisoning. This chemical passed through the food chain by accumulating in the fish, which in turn are eaten by eagles. DDT in the eagles caused eggshell to thin so that they broke during incubation and failed to hatch. The population plummeted, wintering eagle sin Alabama became rare and the breeding population completed died out.

Can you spot a bald eagle?
Adult Bald Eagles have a gleaming white head and tail, which contrasts against their dark body feathers. This striking characteristic, along with their bright yellow bill, does not fully develop until they mature at about five years of age. The adult female has wingspan of almost eight feet and may weigh as much as a fourteen pounds. The adult males are slightly smaller. Immature Bald Eagles, lacking the white head and tail, are often misidentified as Golden Eagles. Unlike Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles are not usually found near large bodies of water.
Bald Eagle Restoration
The work of many dedicated wildlife biologist and conservationists helped this magnificent bird of prey return to Alabama. Using a process known as hacking, 91 juvenile eagle were released throughout the state from 1985-91. Juvenile eagles take their first flights in Alabama, become imprinted on the geographic area and return to nest as adults.

Breeding and Nesting
Bald Eagles mate for life and share nesting and brood rearing responsibilities. Nests are often built in the crowns of tall trees near water. Pairs usually return to the same nest each year, adding new nesting material. One, two, or occasionally three eggs are laid from December to January and are incubated for 30-32 days. Eaglets are small at hatching and require nearly three months of development before leaving the nest.

Photographs of the marker can be found on HMDB.org

End of Return of a Native