National Treasure

Once endangered, bald eagles are a conservation success story


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Lindy — This bald eagle can spot his zookeeper from a mile away

Photograph by Tom Roy

Even though a wing injury has left him unable to fly, Lindy, one of two bald eagles at the Detroit Zoo, still lives up to proverbial eagle standards. Staffers say Lindy can spot his zookeeper from a mile away and will vocalize when he sees her with his "eagle eye."

Named after Charles Lindbergh, Lindy was found in 1988 on Orcas Island, Wash., where his injury prevented him from living in the wild. He came to the Detroit Zoo later that year. His habitat mate, Flash, got his name from flying into electrical transmission wires. Flash also suffered a wing injury and came to the zoo from Kodiak Island, Alaska, in 2009.

Despite having the word "bald" in their name, these birds are not at all "follicly" challenged. The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) actually got its name from the Old English word balde, meaning white, in reference to the bird’s snowy head and tail feathers. The Detroit Zoo collects molted eagle feathers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who provide them to Native Americans for use in their religious ceremonies.

Once nearly extinct, the bald eagle is a conservation success story. The ban of DDT in the early 1960s and federal protection caused the eagle population to steadily rise across the country. By 2010, they were finally removed from the federal endangered species list. And although they’re still listed as a species of special concern in Michigan, their nesting range has expanded, including several sites along the Detroit River.

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