View Bald Eagles

Image of Bald Eagles Scientific Classification:
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Falconiformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Haliaeetus
  • Species: H. leucocephalus

Image of Bald Eagles Range

Learn About Bald Eagles

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey found in North America that is most recognizable as the national bird and symbol of the United States of America.

This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle. Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.

It is partially migratory, depending on location. If its territory has access to open water, it remains there year-round, but if the body of water freezes during the winter, making it impossible to obtain food, it migrates to the south or to the coast.

The Bald Eagle is a large bird, with a body length of 71–106 cm, a wingspan of 183–234 cm, and a mass of 3–7 kg (6.6–15.5 lb); females are about 25 percent larger than males. The adult Bald Eagle has a brown body with a white head and tail, and bright yellow irises, taloned feet, and a hooked beak. Juveniles are completely brown except for the yellow feet. Males and females are identical in plumage coloration

It is sexually mature at four years or five years of age, and it is only at that time when they fully display their full white head and tail plumage.

In the wild, Bald Eagles can live up to thirty years, and often survive longer in captivity, up to sixty years. The Bald Eagle builds the largest nest of any North American bird, up to 4 meters (13 ft) deep, 2.5 meters (8 ft) wide, and one tonne in weight.

Bald Eagles normally squeak and have a shrill cry, punctuated by grunts. They do not make the scream that is found in films; this is usually the call of a Red-tailed Hawk, dubbed into films for dramatic effect.

The Bald Eagle's diet is opportunistic and varied, but most feed mainly on fish. It hunts fish by swooping down and snatching the fish out of the water with its talons. Locally, eagles may rely largely on carrion, especially in winter. Sometimes, if the fish is too heavy to lift, the eagle will be dragged into the water. It may swim to safety, but some eagles drown or succumb to hypothermia. Occasionally, Bald Eagles will steal fish away from smaller raptors, such as Ospreys, a practice known as kleptoparasitism. Healthy adult Bald Eagles are not preyed on in the wild and are thus considered apex predators.

The Bald Eagle is extremely sensitive to human activity, and is found most commonly in areas free of human disturbance. The species was on the brink of extirpation in the continental United States (while flourishing in much of Alaska and Canada) late in the 20th century, but now has a stable population and has been officially removed from the U.S. federal government's list of endangered species. The Bald Eagle was officially reclassified from "Endangered" to "Threatened" on July 12, 1995 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. On July 6, 1999, a proposal was initiated "To Remove the Bald Eagle in the Lower 48 States From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife." It was delisted on June 28, 2007.

References: *BirdLife International (2004). Haliaeetus leucocephalus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 2007-11-11. *del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Sargatal, J., eds. (1994). Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol. 2. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona *"Bald Eagle Facts and Information". Eagles.org. Retrieved on 2008-11-03. *"Bald Eagle Fact Sheet". Southern Ontario Bald Eagle Monitoring Project. Retrieved on 2008-06-30. *Harris. "Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus". University of Michigan Museum of Geology. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. *"Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus". Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. *Sibley, D. (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. National Audubon Society *Bird, D.M. (2004). The Bird Almanac: A Guide to Essential Facts and Figures of the World's Birds. Ontario: Firefly Books. *Joshua Dietz. "What's in a Name". Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Retrieved on August 19, 2007. *Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott (1980). A Greek-English Lexicon (Abridged Edition). UK: Oxford University Press. *Linnaeus, Carolus (1766). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio duodecima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii).. *"Haliaeetus leucocephalus" (in English). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. *"Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus". The Pacific Wildlife Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-06-27. *Brown, N. L.. "Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus". Retrieved on 2007-08-20. *Wink, M; Heidrich, P. & Fentzloff, C (1996). "A mtDNA phylogeny of sea eagles (genus Haliaeetus) based on nucleotide sequences of the cytochrome b gene" (pdf). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 24: 783–791. *"Bald Eagle Habitat" (in English). Bald-Eagles.info. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. *"WILDLIFE SPECIES: Haliaeetus leucocephalus". USDA Forest Service. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. *Bull J, Farrand, J Jr (1987). Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds:Eastern Region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 468–9. *British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee. "25th Report (October 1998)". British Ornithologists Union. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. *Hope Rutledge. "Where to View Bald Eagles". Retrieved on 2007-08-20. *Terres, J. K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. New York, NY: Knopf. pp. 644–646. *Daum, David W.. "Bald Eagle". Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Retrieved on 2007-08-15. *http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/raptors/diet.htm *Jorde, D.G.; Lingle, G (1998). "Kleptoparasitism by Bald Eagles wintering in South-Central Nebraska" (PDF). Journal of Field Ornithology 59 (2): 183–188. *http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-bald_eagle.html *R.F. Stocek. "Bald Eagle". Canadian Wildlife Service. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. *"Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)". Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved on 2007-04-24. *Erickson, L. (2007). Bald Eagle Journey North About Bald Eagle Nests *Brown, Leslie (1976). Birds of Prey: Their biology and ecology. Hamlyn. p. 226. *"Bald Eagle Facts and Information". American eagle foundation. Retrieved on 2008-01-03. *Milloy, Steven (2006-07-06). "Bald Eagle", Fox News. Retrieved on 3 January 2008. *EPA press release (1972-12-31). "DDT Ban Takes Effect", US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved on 22 August 2007. *Barrera, Jorge (2005-07-04). "Agent Orange has left deadly legacy Fight continues to ban pesticides and herbicides across Canada". Retrieved on 22 August 2007. *’’Bald Eagle Soars Off Endangered Species List". U.S. Department of the Interior (2007-06-28). Retrieved on 2007-08-27. *BirdLife International (2004). Haliaeetus leucocephalus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 2008-01-03. *Maestrelli, John R.; Stanley N. Wiemeyer (March 1975). "Breeding Bald Eagles in Captivity". The Wilson Bulletin 87 (I). *Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997. Ministry of Attorney General. *"Original Design of the Great Seal of the United States (1782)". National Archives. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. *Mikkelson, Barbara & Mikkelson, David P. "A Turn of the Head". snopes.com. Retrieved on 2007-08-19. *Julie Collier. "The Sacred Messengers". Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Retrieved on 2007-05-20. *Melmer, David (2007-06-11). "Bald eagles may come off threatened list", Indian Country Today. Retrieved on 23 August 2007. *Brown, Steven C.; Averill, Lloyd J.. "Sun Dogs and Eagle Down", University of Washington Press. Retrieved on 23 August 2007. *O'Brien, Greg. "Power Derived from the Outside World". Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750-1830. Univ of Nebraska Press. p. 58. *Lawrence, Elizabeth Atwood. "The Symbolic Role of Animals in the Plains Indian Sun Dance", University of Washington Press. Retrieved on 23 August 2007. *DeMeo, Antonia M. (1995). "Access to Eagles and Eagle Parts: Environmental Protection v. Native American Free Exercise of Religion". Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 22 (3): 771–813. http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ar22hstclq771.htm. Retrieved on 22 August 2007. *Boradiansky, Tina S.. "Conflicting Values: The Religious Killing of Federally Protected Wildlife", University of New Mexico School of Law. Retrieved on 23 August 2007.

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