Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Once nearly extinct, American bald eagle population has quadrupled since 2009

In 1963, there were just 417 known nesting pairs of bald eagles in the contiguous United States. Now, that number has soared to 71,400 pairs, according to a report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The bald eagle population has quadrupled since the last major count in 2009 — there are now an estimated 316,700 individual birds in the lower 48 states, with more than half living in the Mississippi Flyway, spanning roughly from Minnesota and Wisconsin down to Louisiana. Conservation methods were enacted in the 1960s, and the bird was removed from the list of endangered and threatened species in 2007.

For the best chance at spotting the bird, visit shoreline forests, where they often perch atop trees. In flight, they pump their wings slowly, with a 5- to 8-foot wingspan. Their large brown bodies and white heads are unmistakable, though younger birds are almost completely brown.