Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Bald Eagle

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Haliaeetus leucocephalus | [authority] Linnaeus, 1766 | [UK] Bald Eagle | [FR] Pygargue a tete blanche | [DE] Weisskopf-Seeadler | [ES] Pigargo Americano | [NL] Amerikaanse Zeearend


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Haliaeetus are large to very large eagles, with long, broad wings and medium to short rounded or wedge-shaped tails. The bill is large, strong and compressed. The legs are short and the toes and talons powerfully developed

Physical charateristics

The adult, with its white head and white tail
, is “all field mark.” Bill yellow, massive. The dark immature has a dusky head and tail and a dark bill. It shows considerable whitish in the wings linings and often on the breast (see overhead pattern). Variable, depending on age.

Listen to the sound of Bald Eagle

[audio: Eagle.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 190 cm wingspan max.: 210 cm
size min.: 71 cm size max.: 96 cm
incubation min.: 34 days incubation max.: 36 days
fledging min.: 70 days fledging max.: 85 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


North America : widespread, also Northwest Mexico


Coasts, rivers, large lakes; in migration, also mountains, open country. Typically close to water, also locally in open dry country. Occurs in a variety of waterside settings where prey is abundant, including s
wamps in Florida, edges of conifer forest in southeastern Alaska, treeless islands in Aleutians, desert rivers in Arizona. Also winters in some very dry western valleys.


Usually first breeds at age 4 -5 years, and may mate for life.
Site is usually in tree, on cliff in West, or on ground on northern islands. Tree nests usually in very tall tree, up to 180′ or more above ground. Nest (built by both sexes) usually a mound of sticks, lined with finer materials; nest may be reused and a
dded to for years, becoming huge. Great Horned Owls sometimes take over nests.
Clutch 2, sometimes 1 -3. White. Incubation is by both parents, 34 -36 days.
Young: At least one parent remains with young almost constantly for first 2 weeks. Both parents bring prey to nest, tearing food into small pieces and feeding it directly to young at first; after 3-
6 weeks, young begin pecking at food dropped in nest. When prey is scarce, only largest young may survive. Age at first flight about 10 -12 weeks.

Feeding habits

Mostly fish when available, also birds, mammals.
Feeds heavily on fish. When fish are scarce, may eat large birds, or mammals (jackrabbits, muskrats, others). Sometimes eats turtles, crabs, shellfish, other items. Often feeds on carrion.
Behavior: Sometimes a predator, sometimes a scavenger. Does much hunting by watching fro
m a high perch; also hunts by cruising very low over sea or land, taking prey by surprise. Where fish are abundant (as at spawning runs), may wade in shallow water to pursue them. Sometimes steals fish from Ospreys or other birds.

Video Bald Eagle


copyright: Wayne Hall


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Bald Eagle status Least Concern


Alaska, Canada, to southern United States.
Migration: Many southern and coastal adults are permanent residents (as far north as Aleutian Islands). Birds from far northern interior migrate south in winter. Immatures from Florida may migrate far north (even to Canad
a) during their first summer.

Distribution map

Bald Eagle distribution range map

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