“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Whitemarsh Township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Is That an Eagle?

Is That an Eagle? Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 13, 2014
1. Is That an Eagle? Marker
Water View, Large Trees
Suppose you were a bald eagle. Soaring high above, your keen eyes search for a place to raise your young.

You need a tall, sturdy tree that will hold a one-ton nest. You look for water—a river or lake with fish swimming near the surface. Other wildlife is a plus; you prefer fish, but birds, small mammals and a variety of carrion also will satisfy your appetite, Only bothersome humans make unacceptable neighbors.

Good eagle habitat attracts ospreys too. Skilled at impaling fish with powerful talons, ospreys will occasionally lose their meal to the larger, more powerful eagles who are masters at pirating food.
(captions) Osprey with fish; Bald eagle

Mistaken Identity
In flight, bald eagles can be confused with several other birds, particularly ospreys and turkey vultures. Look for the following characteristics:
• Eagles soar and glide with their head far in front of their level wings. When fishing, they get only their feet wet.
• Ospreys hold their wings in a distinctive M-shape and flap more than soar. They
Militia Hill Hawk Observation Tower image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, September 13, 2014
2. Militia Hill Hawk Observation Tower
often plunge completely into the water to catch fish.
• Turkey vultures rock from side to side as they fly.
(captions) Turkey vulture in flight; Bald eagle

Making a Comeback
Seldom seen for many years, both bald eagles and ospreys are reappearing in Pennsylvania. Encouraged by protective laws, conservation strategies and reintroduction o programs, they are recovering from dangers posed by pesticides and human predation.

Loss of habitat—clean water and old-growth—is now the primary threat to their continued recovery.

Eagles and ospreys migrate through Pennsylvania in April-May and August-October.
The more common turkey vultures migrate in mid-March and remain until November or December
(captions) Bald eagle at nest site; Osprey at nest site

When perched, eagles,ospreys and vultures look very different.
Turkey Vulture
Length 25-32” Wingspan 72”
Bald Eagle
Length 30-31” Wingspan 72-90”
Length 21-24” Wingspan 54-72”

In flight, each bird has different markings, wingshape and wingspan.
Eagles keep their wings level in flight.
Vultures form a V-shape.
Ospreys make a distinctive M-shape.
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Turkey vulture; Bald Eagle; Osprey

Eagles and ospreys have the weapons of efficient aerial hunters:
• Keen eyesight
• Feet and talons to grasp and carry
• Sharp beaks for shredding prey

Turkey vultures are well adapted for clean-up duty:
• Featherless heads allow them to eat carrion yet stay relatively clean
• Feet designed for walking rather than carrying food to a nest
(captions) Bald eagle head; Vulture head & foot; Osprey foot

Erected by DCNR Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsEnvironment.
Location. 40° 7.236′ N, 75° 13.361′ W. Marker is in Whitemarsh Township, Pennsylvania, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from State Park Road 0.3 miles south of Militia Hill Road, on the left when traveling south. Located at the Militia Hill Hawk Observation Tower in Fort Washington State Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 420 Militia Hill Road, Fort Washington PA 19034, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Helping Hands (here, next to this marker); Birds of a Feather (here, next to this marker); On the Wing (a few steps from this marker); Hope Lodge
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(approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Hope Lodge (approx. half a mile away); Fort Washington (approx. 0.8 miles away); Whitemarsh (approx. 1.6 miles away); St. Peter's Church (approx. 3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Whitemarsh Township.
Also see . . .
1. Militia Hill Hawk Watch. (Submitted on September 16, 2014.)
2. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. (Submitted on September 16, 2014.)
3. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. (Submitted on September 16, 2014.)
4. iconserve Pennsylvania. (Submitted on September 16, 2014.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 4, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 16, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 247 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 16, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.
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Feb. 25, 2021