Oenone the Bald Eagle

You can visit Oenone at her current home in the exhibit across from the flamingo ponds next to the Andean condor.

Where They Hang Out

At the zoo: In an aviary near the How Far Can You Jump sign

In the wild: wooded areas near water in North America

Favorite Foods

At the zoo: mice, rats, fish, specially formulated bird of prey diet

In the wild: primarily fish, but will also eat small birds, rodents, snakes and carrion

Social Life

Bald eagles pair for life and are monogamous.

About Oenone

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Oenone is a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), the US national emblem. The bald eagle was chosen in 1782 as the emblem because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks.

Oenone is a female bald eagle that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovered from the wild in 1980 when she suffered a wing injury. Her injury was severe enough that she would not have survived in the wild. After her rehabilitation, she came to the Denver Zoo and now she is an ambassador for bald eagles.

She eats many foods here at the zoo, but her favorite is trout, which is very typical of her species. She is also more brave and bold of our two eagles. She is typically found closer to the front of the exhibit and will be the first to come down to eat and sometimes walks with her food in her talons to a better location. She is usually the one who vocalizes and you can see the size difference between her and the male named Toano. As is the case with most birds of prey, the females are larger.

The bald eagle started declining in numbers in the late 1800’s. In 1940, the Bald and Golden Eagle Act started protecting them but their numbers continued to decline. By the 1960’s the number of breeding pairs was lower than 450. In 1967, they were listed on the Endangered Species List and in 1972 DDT (one of the main reasons for the decline) was banned. DDT is a pesticide that had harmful effects on bald eagle eggs. By the 1990’s the number of bald eagles had increased to more than 4500 pairs.  By 2007 there were around 10,000 pairs and they were taken off the Endangered Species List. The bald eagles are still protected by The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act passed in 1940 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Under the 1940 act it is still illegal to own any feathers or other parts of an eagle. Recognized Native American tribes can submit an application to obtain feathers and other items from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. This is a wonderful comeback by a species that is very close to the heart of most Americans and proof that when people take action a positive outcome can be accomplished for a species headed to extinction.

You can visit Oenone at her current home in the exhibit across from the flamingo ponds next to the Andean condor.