Bald EagleHaliaeetus leucocephalus

adult
Tom Vezo/VIREO
adult
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
juvenile (1st year)
Fred Truslow/VIREO
immature (2nd year)
Arthur Morris/VIREO
immature (3rd year)
Rob Curtis/VIREO
immature (4th year)
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
juvenile (1st year)
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
immature (2nd year)
Rob Curtis/VIREO
immature, 4th and 2nd year
Rob Curtis/VIREO
juvenile molting to 2nd year
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult - near miss
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult and nestlings
John Hunter/VIREO
Bald Eagle

Description

30-31" (76-79 cm). W. 6-7' 6" (1.8-2.3 m). A large blackish eagle with white head and tail and heavy yellow bill. Young birds lack the white head and tail, and resemble adult Golden Eagles, but are variably marked with white and have a black, more massive bill.

Voice

Squeaky cackling and thin squeals.

Listen

calls of captive
alarm calls of perched adult
alarm calls given in flight #2
alarm calls given in flight #1

Habitat

Lakes, rivers, marshes, and seacoasts.

Range

Breeds from Alaska east to Newfoundland and south locally to California, Great Lakes, and Virginia; also in Arizona, along Gulf Coast, and in Florida. Formerly more widespread. Winters along coasts and large rivers in much of United States.

Discussion

Although the Bald Eagle eats carrion and sometimes catches crippled waterfowl, it is primarily a fish eater. Its beachcombing habit was its downfall, for it accumulated pesticides from contaminated fish and wildlife. Hunting, poaching, and the encroachment of civilization reduced its population drastically except on the rain forest coasts of Alaska and northern and central British Columbia. Now that the damaging pesticides have been banned, however, our national bird is staging a comeback.

Nesting

2 or 3 white eggs in a massive nest of sticks in a tall tree or, less frequently, on top of a cliff.

Similar Species

adult

Turkey Vulture

25-32" (64-81 cm). W. 6' (1.8 m). Eagle-sized blackish bird, usually seen soaring over the countryside. In flight, the long wings are held upward in a wide, shallow V; flight feathers silvery below.

adult and chick in nest

Steller's Sea-Eagle

34-36" (86.5-91.5 cm). W. 80-95" (203-241 cm).

adult

California Condor

45-55" (1.1-1.4 m). W. 8' 6"-9' 6" (2.6-2.9 m). Largest flying bird in North America with a wing spread of more than 9 feet.

adult

Golden Eagle

30-41" (76-104 cm). W. 6' 6" (2 m). A large, all-dark eagle with a pale golden nape. Bill smaller and darker than that of Bald Eagle.

Vireo

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