American Eagle
Introduction

Everything about them is big. They are one of nature’s largest raptors, with wings that can span eight feet, and nests that can weigh up to a ton. Unique to North America, the bald eagle is the continent’s most recognizable aerial predator, with a shocking white head, electric yellow beak and penetrating eyes. Yet most people know little about it beyond its striking appearance.

In the 1960s, the bald eagle was on the brink of extinction caused by the pesticide DDT and other human pressures. Following their protection as an endangered species, bald eagles have come roaring back. But even in the best of times, life in the wild for these birds is a surprisingly tough struggle.

From the pristine wilderness of Alaska to the Upper Mississippi River Valley, American Eagle goes behind the scenes and into the nest to provide the ultimate bird’s eye view into the private life of an American icon.

  • Gord Nicholson

    please tell me in advance of several of your future nature programs I can see on my TV. I have basic tv and my server is cogeco. thanks gord nicholson

  • NATURE Online

    If you’d like to receive updates about upcoming NATURE programs, please sign up for the NATURE Update newsletter by entering your email address on the right side of any page on our Web site.

  • stanley tysarczyk

    please sign me up for future program on tv

  • gretchen butler

    Pls let me know of any future programs, articles, etc. on birds of prey. Tks, Gretchen Butler

  • susanne houshmand

    this looks good-you might want to watch it too.

  • Don Alps

    There is a DVM in Anchorage named Dr. James R. Scott who recently retired after spending many years of rehabilitating not only both species of Eagle but literally hundreds of others. He was recently recognized for his role in establishing the Bird Training and Learning Center and numerous returns to the wild of not only birds but many other species as well.
    I have made him aware of this site of which I know he will have interest. Great Job!~

  • chris welle FOUR FEATHERS PHOTOGRAPHY

    AWESOME, ONE OF MY FAVORITE BIRDS TO PHOTOGRAPH IS THE BALD EAGLE, THE GRACE, BEAUTY, AND WHAT THEY SYMBOLIZE TO ME AND A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE IS TRUELY BREATHLESS

  • janet pence

    I just watched American Eagle on PBS Nature. WOW! Should be “required” for all children. Will order a tape or two for grandkids.

  • Sam

    It would be nice if our PBS station showed it so we could see it too!

  • Martin Murphy

    As a long-time landowner in the Mississippi River driftless area, wildlife biologist, and GIS specialist, I find that the film “American Eagle” depicts an accurate account of what can happen when conservation efforts are made along one of the most endangered wildlife refuges, the Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

    With all of the uncontrolled development and logging degrading our passerine habitats along the Mississippi River flyway, it’s refreshing to know that one relative success story is accurately portrayed in this exceptional wildlife film.

    This film provokes an understanding of bald eagles not only in its broadest terms, but also in the substance of its accuracy without disturbing this magnificant raptor.

    M. Murphy

  • Debbie

    Wonderful – I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this Nature program! In ‘04 a friend emailed pics of a nesting Eagle pair in my hometown (W. Kentucky), seen for the first time in years… YES! Thank you.

  • Keith

    I especially enjoyed this Nature program. I think it’s my favorite. I have loved American Bald Eagles all of my life. I am from the upper Mississippi valley in Iowa and Illinois and always look forward to the increased Eagle activity in Winter. Great job!

  • Brenda

    Awesome show! The photography was amazing. Beautifully put together. I loved the Eagles, but also enjoyed the other birds filmed, like the Coot.
    I did not know Eagles play in the air.

  • brittney

    when the hawks were frozen,i cried

  • Coryelle Kramer-Animal Communicator

    What a wonderful DOCU I did not want it to end! I could have watched it for hours. When the underdog Eagle took off, I cheered

  • Andre

    Program was GREAT! Really informative, and I ordered the DVD for my son,he collects and Loves Bald Eagles.
    Thanks and God Bless

  • Howard Rowe

    As an avid wildlife photographer and eagle watcher, I was a bit dismayed when your otherwise outstanding program retold the DDT issue without challenge or comment. There appears to be a significant amount of evidence indicating DDT truly had little effect on eagles, and that various groups promoted and exploited the DDT ban for political advantage. I was hoping that NATURE would explore this controversy in greater detail.

  • Molly

    Since when is it an American Bald Eagle? It’s a Bald Eagle. Nice documentary but changing the bird’s name to suit your country was annoying.

  • Crystal

    My family and I watched this together and learned so much! I loved seeing the eagles in groups, we thought they were solitary birds. Thank you for such a wonderful, heartwarming story about this beautiful, awesome icon!

  • Darlene

    I loved the documentary on the AMERICAN BALD EAGLE! It was beautiful to see the male and female both taking turns to sit on the eggs and then to raise their young. Here in Louisiana we are seeing more and more eagle sightings closer to home. Today I saw three flying over my home and yesterday I saw five about 20 miles from here. We also have a yearly Eagle Expo in my area where experts come to talk about the eagle population and we go on boat tours to see the nests and eagles in their natural habitat. I was able to get some great shots of bald eagles in 2008. You can view them on my website: http://www.bayoubellephotography.com I am very pleased that the eagle population is progressively increasing each year locally.

    Can’t wait to view your next documentary about the wolf named Lobo….

  • Deb

    Awesome documentary, Awesome photography!

  • robert m rehmer

    Any audio CD(s) available of Lenny Willams music from this show? Thanks, BOB R.

  • Judy

    I loved this particular episode. I think the bald eagle is one of the most majestic birds. I actually work at a landfill and we are near marshlands where there is actually a nest. Many waterbirds in the area. Eagle has been seen flying over landfill numerous times. I’ve tried getting pics. Many people come out to hopefully get a glimpse of the eagle. I hope there will be more documentaries on the eagle.

  • Jim Sue Ware & Eric

    Neil Rettig does it again.He captured the eagle as a the invincible symbol and told a story in the real life of survival. Thanks for a FANTASTIC experience !!

  • John Huerta

    Your Program really Proves that The American Eagle has sored again,Thank you for airing it.

  • Dave Dodson

    A well filmed program. Beautiful shots capturing these magnificant birds. However, the obvious blatant eco-terrorist bias rendered a disgusting “crock-umentary”. The narrative was interesting until it became an anti-hunter, anti-developer, anti-anti -rant, filled with half-truths and intentionally misleading statements unsupported by real science not the bull-pap put forth by pseudo-scientists. You and the film makers ruined, corrupted what could have been a jewel in the PBS crown transmogrifing it into still another anti-humankind load of old codswollop.

  • Margie Ford

    I thought that the America Eagle show was Great! I monitor bald eagle nests in northeast Florida for The Audubon Society. I really would like for a Americans to learn about our beautiful national symbol!

  • NATURE Online

    In case you missed the premiere on TV, you can now watch the full episode online: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/american-eagle/video-full-episode/4349/

  • Audrey

    Molly, it helps if you can read:
    Unique to North America, the bald eagle is the continent’s most recognizable aerial predator, with a shocking white head, electric yellow beak, and penetrating eyes.

  • Gene

    Amazing Program. Informative, Entertaining, Enlightening. A must see for all ages.

  • Kay

    I loved watching this film! A link to a 01/24/2008 news release shows that 649 eagles were counted during the Ohio 2008 mid-winter eagle survey:
    http://www.ohiodnr.com/Default.aspx?tabid=18276&EntryID=329

    I never even saw a bald eagle in the 60’s & 70’s when I was a kid. I’m seeing them now though!

  • sara

    AWESOME film the bald eagles, I love so much the represent what this country stands for thank you so much I would love to order the tape,Send me the ph#
    please the toll free # to order this owesome film;

  • cessna

    Thank you PBS for another great Nature film. I love the American Bald Eagle and follow several “Nest Cams” seasonally. When will this film be on KVPTHD again? I watched the Video online but would love to see it in HD. Thank you again.

  • Molly

    Audrey: Thanks, but I’m capable of reading. The biologist repeatedly called the bird an American Eagle during the show. The bird is called a Bald Eagle, not American, not North American, but simply Bald Eagle. I was surprised that a biologist didn’t get it right.

  • Pete Lunsford

    While I enjoyed the program and have viewed Bald Eagles on numerous occasions while fishing, I agree with Dave Dodson’s 11/17 comments and specifically to the comment about hunter’s lead bullets in deer… Please!

  • Kathy Grant Tribelhorn

    Thanks for this awesome program on eagles especially since you featured my Grandfather’s Minnesota farm along the Mississippi River. They are awesome birds!

  • XG9

    wow.what are theese messages.there a lot why? does any body know? anyway,who cares thanks pbs for all the information. it is very useful.

  • Todd in Iowa

    Wow, what a show ! Is this available in Blu-Ray DVD ?

  • j. kent nicholes

    CNN.com “Disease threatens bald eagle population
    BioOne Veterinary sciences Dec 2008 volume 52 issue 4
    Avian diseases Mycobacteriosis in an american Bald Eagle
    Zoo Wild Med. 1999 sept;30(3):439-42 Thyroid Adenocarcinoma in a bald eagle. YOUR BIAS ON HUNTER CAUSED LEAD POISONING IN AMERICAN BALDS IS SILLy. Even the Great Bald Eagle is cursed with dieases.

  • Damaris

    Please confirm the following. Eagles in the wild at age 40 decide to either live or die. The decision to live is followed by a supposed transformation that takes about 5 months in which the eagle rips off its beak- waits for it to regrow. Then with the new beak rips off its talons- waits for these to regrow. Then when these grow in – rips off all of its feathers. Once these grow in – the transformation is complete and the eagle lives another 30 years. I can’t believe this. But I need an expert to confirm that this is not true.

  • http://udlspotlight.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/spotlight-on-pbs-nature-engaging-learners-beyond-the-four-walls/ Spotlight on PBS Nature: Engaging Learners Beyond the Four Walls « UDL Spotlight

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  • c p

    the program mentioned that the nestcam was still active and viewable online – could you please provide the link please – thank you

  • Steve

    This was the 2nd edit for this piece. The producer felt the first cut was too artsy. I think I would like to see that too. While the name “American Bald Eagle” isn’t accurate it is very much accepted, as sub species or geographic variations within the species do occur (i.e. Canadian Bald Eagle). Believe me that I am one of the first to pooh-pooh the “bad human” perspective It IS an unfortunate fact that as scavangers eagles do ingest lead and do in fact die from it. Nearly EVERY California Condor has been taken into captivity and treated for lead poisoning at some point. Sorry to offend, but this is fact.

  • bjp

    To view the nest cam for the eagles and other raptors, go to http://www.raptorresource.org and click on “nest viewer/bird cams”

  • dueces

    THAT WAS AWESOMEE

  • Virginian

    If you like eagles, visit http://www.wvec.com to watch the eagle cam. It’s an amazing up close experience.

  • Ryan Lesniewicz

    I love this show. I love the bald eagles and photography them a lot here in Northwest Ohio. I live in one of counties with the most nests in the state. Great program!

  • Brent Horn

    Thank You so much for this program. I saw my first American Bald Eagle 5 years ago, and have become an avid Eagle watcher ever since. They used to be non-existant in southern Illinois, but we have found around 20 active nests in the area that we’ve found. I’m sure there are many more we haven’t seen. If you’ve never seen one in the wild, it will open a window in your soul that you never knew existed. Such an awesome animal to see. Magnificent is such a truly fitting word.

  • Dana – Studley,VA

    I thought it was an excellent and informative program. I never once thought about an eagle getting lead poisoning from a deer carcas. That was just the saddest thing! I learn so much from these Nature shows. We have eagles that live near us and I spot them from time to time. Amazing!

  • J. Horne

    to James Donald, Producer…

    Please tell me where you got your evidence to support the claim that DDT caused raptor eggshells to thin. I would like to read it for myself. Even the World Health Organiztion still promotes the use of DDT. No other pesticide has done so much to saves lives with almost zero environmental impact. It does NOT cause cancer. Millions of people die every year where it is not used.

    Whether or not the claims of DDT are true, you could have left the controversy out of your production without compromising it in any way. Furthermore, you compromise your credibility by taking stand not supported by many reputable scientists. GOOGLE: DDT scam and see for yourself.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/955667/posts

    My grandfather was a Michigan farmer who mixed DDT with his hands (as a child I helped him on the farm). He sprayed DDT on hundreds of acres, as did the neighboring farmers. He live 93 good long years with a strong heart and w/o cancer. I’m only 59, ditto. There is no evidence of DDT causing cancer in peope of that area. What they got was a cheap, environmentally safe pesticide that promoted good crops and fed a lot of people.

  • Mary Hartenstein

    I seen a Bald Eagle in Metairie, Louisiana, today ,March 22, 2010 around 12 noon. The eagle was flying towards the West. I have never seen one around here before. I have seen the next between Kenner and LaPlace off of I-10.

  • Al Jim

    Answer for Damaris:

    Damaris says:
    February 25, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I found this information regarding de myth of the rebirth of the eagle. Hope helps you.

    http://www.hoax-slayer.com/rebirth-of-the-eagle-hoax.shtml

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    This was the 2nd edit for this piece. The producer felt the first cut was too artsy. I think I would like to see that too. While the name “American Bald Eagle” isn’t accurate it is very much accepted, as sub species or geographic variations within the species do occur (i.e. Canadian Bald Eagle). Believe me that I am one of the first to pooh-pooh the “bad human” perspective It IS an unfortunate fact that as scavangers eagles do ingest lead and do in fact die from it. Nearly EVERY California Condor has been taken into captivity and treated for lead poisoning at some point. Sorry to offend, but this is fact.

  • Mike

    Interesting! I hope that everyone had a great weekend and I hope that they had a Merry Christmas!

  • Larry W.

    This episode is really great in the blu-ray format. It has beautiful footage of the eagles flying and much about their nesting and survival (one of the eagles is blind in one eye and survives). It’s a must have episode of Nature– especially for those with blu-ray players.

  • Gail R. Campbell

    Eagles will also hunt small deer they can knock down in the forest by flying at them and hitting them to throw them off balance. Hurtling down from a tree, they can manage a pretty stunning blow. I don’t know how exactly they kill the deer, but tribal friends have told me they’ve seen eagles swoop from trees and do this.

  • Chuck Williams

    The show was informative. Unfortunately you have choosen th perpetuate the myth of DDT damage to wildlife.
    Go to Junkscience.com and search for 100 things you shoudl know about DDT. Do your own research don’t be fooled by environmentalist propaganda. See for yourself. DDT did not harm wildlife but banning of the chemical has lead to the deaths on millions from Malaria particularly in Africa. Please don’t believr me research for yourself.

  • Doug Mattson

    I have even seen a eagle hovering over a busy highway in Minneapolis MN snatching roadkill !

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  • Bill Tobin

    The claim that DDT caused bald eagle populations in the USA to decline has been proven over and over again as a fraudulent lie. But, then again, I don’t give PBS enough credit to acknowledge proven science when it comes to the advocacy of a political agenda. Shame on the producers! Shame on PBS!

    http://www.junkscience.com/ddtfaq.html#ref6

  • Josh Gates

    I also must state my dissapointment at the claims that DDT was responsible for decreasing populations of the American Bald Eagle. It is an unjustified connection made without substantial evidence. While I will admit that it is a very effective finishing move in the world of professional wrestling it certainly can’t cause shells to weaken. Although it was used quite well by men such as The Rock and Mick Foley, I never seen anyone actually wrestle an eagle. Much less use the DDT as a move against one. Please PBS, do better research. You are making claims against a wrestling institution that has only brought excitement and happiness to the world. Shame!

  • Jake “The Snake” Roberts

    The DDT can weaken anything!

  • Thomas

    Very important article about an reintroduction program of eagles you can read at http://www.eurowildlife.org

  • Mike

    What is the proof that the population of Bald Eagles went into free fall after DDT came into use? I’ve heard this assertion many times, but I’ve never seen any proof.

  • Linda

    how can someone see this in Canada. Is there a way to see it on without buying it?

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  • Elaine

    Wonderful movie. I learned so much about Eagles from this presentation. I will view it a few more times. Some parts are so sad, but they are all known fact of nature. So sad that people are not more careful with animals they shoot.

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  • Suzanne Andersen

    My husband and I enjoy watching this program . We have been viewing several Bald Eagles that we spotted afew years ago while Duck hunting near Beaver,Utah. AWESOME ……………………

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  • Lydia Harper

    This video is great. I love Bald Eagles. They are so amazing! I love to watch then go about there lives and raise their young. Eagles are such good moms and dads.

  • johann

    I liked the show, but these silly little popup adds about “evolutionary ancestors” is so 18th century. I hope your $450,000,000 federal monies gets pulled.

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