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Bald eagles plus metamorphose or re-generation process.

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Nanoose
978312.  Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:09 pm Reply with quote

Once well my grounds keeping customers and I were watching the Bald eagles teach their young how to take advantage of the wind currents he started telling me about how sometimes Bald eagles can go threw a metamorphose or re-generation process.
He said a Bald eagle normally lives 40 years but sometimes an old Bald eagle will pull out it's feathers and pull out it's claws with it's beak then the eagle will keep hitting it's beak on a rock until it's beak falls off. After a few weeks if the eagle hasn't died from starvation and exposer to the elements – its feathers, claws and beak will start growing back and the eagle has a chance to live another 20 or 30 years.
I research about it on the Internet and found no scientific proof but found lots of legends or folklore about it. True or not an eagle is a real cool bird. We have Brown Eagles and Bald eagles around here real neat watching them fly.
Cheers!

 
thePhantom
982131.  Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:03 pm Reply with quote

I’d agree this is certainly a neat bit of folklore. Like all birds, eagles have a high metabolic rates and very little in terms of fat reserves, so probably wouldn’t last more than a few days (if that) without a meal. Also, the beak and talons are part of the bird’s skeleton, so I’m pretty certain losing either would be fatal. I’m very jealous you get to watch such beautiful birds flying close to where you live; the best I get are magpies and pigeons!

 
suze
982183.  Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:28 am Reply with quote

thePhantom wrote:
I’d agree this is certainly a neat bit of folklore. Like all birds, eagles have a high metabolic rates and very little in terms of fat reserves, so probably wouldn’t last more than a few days (if that) without a meal.


I know little about biology, but I did see David Tennant talking about penguins.

Are they an exception to this principle?

 
Efros
982194.  Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:53 am Reply with quote

I'd say so, the males survive for about 3 months without food whilst incubating eggs.

 
thePhantom
982220.  Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:27 am Reply with quote

I think it’s accepted that smaller endotherms tend to have a faster metabolism, as they lose body heat quicker on account of their high surface area to volume ratio - especially so with birds who need to be light to fly efficiently. There’s also the act of flying itself, which is the most energetically expensive mode of locomotion.

Penguins may be an interesting exception as obviously they don’t fly and they also have a handy layer of insulation. The emperor penguins are the chaps who last the longest without food, but to do so they cheat their avian biology. They huddle together, to create a stable micro-climate rather than to keep warm (although I’m sure that’s a welcome benefit!) and drop their metabolic rate by around 25%. They go into a deep torpor and effectively sleep through the winter. I’d argue this isn’t "typical" bird behaviour, although many species use torpor to survive extreme situations, so I sadly petition for their disqualification from our conversation (despite their connections to the sexual Mr Tennant).

...assuming an eagle could adopt penguin-style hibernation and survive loosing its beak, I still doubt it’d be able to survive for the “few weeks” necessary for this hypothetical regeneration process. Eagles occupy a very different ecological niche to penguins, and wouldn’t be able to build the fat reserves necessary to sustain a prolonged torpor. As the eagle put on weight it’d make finding food near impossible, as the bird wouldn't be able to soar up high and visually scan for food. There’d be a point at which it eventually weighed too much to fly and had to rest before it could hunt again. This has been observed (especially in vultures) and it doesn't take more than a particularly large meal to leave them grounded.

 
mjc3
1054353.  Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:24 pm Reply with quote

I've heard of this myth before, and it is very much untrue. The closest that I can mesh this with reality is the plumage changes from the infant, downy feathers, to the flight feathers, and then the development of a baldie's characteristic white head at about 4 years old.


thePhantom wrote:
the beak and talons are part of the bird’s skeleton, so I’m pretty certain losing either would be fatal


You are very much correct that losing these can be fatal, but it would usually be from starvation. The beak is actually very similar to fingernails, and can break off, rather like your fingernails could, given enough trauma. I have actually seen a few of these cases at a bird of prey rehab clinic, and we often treat them with glues or even standard fingernail polish depending on the severity. Losing a talon or two has a better outcome to losing the beak, but still isn't a minor occurance.

 
Jenny
1054669.  Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:00 pm Reply with quote

Thanks mjc3 and welcome to the forums :-)

 

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