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Eagle Eyes

Citizen scientists look out for this stately emblem of America

The bald eagle’s visual acuity is at least four times that of a human.

The bald eagle’s visual acuity is at least four times that of a human.

Picture a bald eagle in the wild, its keen golden eyes gazing into the distance, its white-feathered head in stark contrast to a blue sky.

Now, what kind of environment do you imagine your eagle living in? Is it soaring over the Rocky Mountains? Or scanning a snow-covered Alaskan landscape in search of its next meal? Or is it perched in a cypress tree, surrounded by the lush greenery of a Florida swamp, with a tropical breeze rustling through its feathers?

Although many Americans associate the bald eagle with Northern and Western locales, Florida is in fact an important location for the survival and prosperity of this iconic species. With some 1,500 nesting pairs, Florida has one of the highest bald eagle populations after Alaska.

This may seem all the more surprising since, among the 50 states, Alaska and Florida could hardly be more different. Yet the bald eagle is very much at home in these disparate environments.