Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle
(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Order:  Accipitriformes
Family:  Accipitridae

Photo © Tony Bosse

Bald Eagle Information

Length:  30 - 43"

Breeding habitat: Open areas, forest edges, and mountains near large lakes and rivers. Requires tall trees for nesting.

Winter habitat: Coastal areas, large inland lakes or rivers with some ice-free water.

Diet:  Fish (staple); birds, especially waterfowl; mammals such as rabbits and muskrats; carrion; occasionally, turtles and shellfish.

  Calls of the Bald Eagle

Interesting Facts about the Bald Eagle

  • The Bald Eagle's nest is usually located near a body of water with an abundant supply of fish - typically the ocean, a large lake, or large river.
  • Each year, this raptor adds to its nest and, over many years, it can eventually weigh as much as a record two tons! It may even become so heavy that it causes the tree where it is located to fall.
  • The Bald Eagle, often found in the same habitat as the Osprey, frequently steals fish from this bird. The eagle waits for the Osprey to catch its prey, then follows behind, harassing the Osprey until it drops the fish, which the eagle then catches in midair.
  • The life span of this eagle in the wild is between 20 and 30 years. In captivity, they have been known to live as long as 48 years.

Bald Eagle in Flight

Bald Eagle in Flight

© Mike Danzenbaker

Bald Eagle
Identification Tips

  • Wingspan: 80 inches
  • Sexes similar
  • Very large, broad-winged, broad-tailed hawk
  • Rounded wings
  • Thick, hooked bill
  • Plucks fish from water with talons


  • White head and upper neck
  • White tail
  • Dark brown body plumage
  • Yellow bill
  • Dark bill and dark cere
  • Dark brown body plumage, including head and tail
  • Variable amounts of white on underwing coverts, belly, and back
  • White head and tail, and dark underwings are gradually acquired in four years

(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)

Bald Eagle
Breeding Bird Survey Map,

Bald Eagle Breeding Map

(Image credit: USGS)

Bald Eagle
Range Maps from Cornell

Bald Eagle breeding, nonbreeding and year-round range

Includes separate map of sightings.

Bald Eagle
Christmas Bird Count Map

Historical CBC Map from USGS