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Bald Eagle
Similar Birds:
 African Fish Eagle
 White-tailed Eagle
 Sanford's Sea Eagle
 Steller's Sea Eagle
 Pallas's Fish Eagle
 White-bellied Sea Eagle
 Madagascar Fish Eagle

Bald Eagle
Photographer: Saffron Blaze

A Bald Eagle in Flight
A Bald Eagle in Flight

Bald Eagle Range Map (N America)
Bald Eagle Range Map (N America)

Bald Eagle

Latin Name Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location North America
Colour Dark Brown & White
Length 71 - 96 cms (28 - 38 inches)
Wingspan Up to 2.5 m (8.25 ft)
Weight 3 - 6.5 Kgs (6.5 - 14 lbs)
Life Expectancy 30 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Bald Eagles are large distinguished birds of prey. They have a body length between 71 and 96 cms (28 - 38 inches), a wingspan up to 2.5 m (8.25 ft) and they weigh between 3 and 6.5 kgs (6.5 - 14 lbs).

They have a dark brown body and wings with a white head, neck and tail feathers. They have a large, yellow bill and large feet equipped with strong talons. Both males and females look alike and it can take juveniles up to five years to gain their full adult plumage.


Bald Eagles are found throughout North America and they are able to live anywhere with adequate nesting trees, feeding grounds and roosts.

They are a partially migrant species and if they have access to open water they will remain at the nesting site year round. Those that do not have access to water migrate south or to coastal areas for the winter months.


Bald Eagles mainly feed on birds, fish and carrion. When catching fish they do not enter the water like the osprey, instead they use their strong feet and sharp claws to snatch dead or dying fish or those that live near the surface of the water.

Bald Eagles are known to steal food from other predatory birds and they often fight between themselves over prey items.


Bald Eagles mate for life, those that are sedentary stay together throughout the year, but those that migrate separate then come together again at breeding sites. Often they reinforce their pair bond through spectacular flight displays that include undulating flight, swooping at each other and cart wheeling through the air with their feet clasped together.

They build a very large nest that can be up to 4 m (13 ft) deep and 2.5 m (8.2 ft) wide in a tree or sometimes on the ground. Usually 2 - 3 eggs are laid and incubation lasts between 5 and 6 weeks. Even though both parents care for the chicks for many weeks a high percentage do not survive their first year.

Bald Eagles start to breed when they reach five years of age.


Healthy adult Bald Eagles are not preyed upon in the wild and are considered apex predators.


There are two subspecies of the Bald Eagle:

Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus
This is the nominate subspecies. It is found in southern USA and Baja California.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus washingtoniensis
It is larger than the nominate subspecies. It is found in northern USA, Canada and Alaska.

Interesting Facts

Bald Eagles are named because of the conspicuous appearance of their white feathered head.

The Bald Eagle has been the national bird of the USA since 1782 and it appears on its seal.

They are the only species of eagle native to North America and they have been a protected species since 1940.

The Bald Eagle builds the largest nest of any North American bird.

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