California Raptor Center

Bald Eagle

Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
(Haliaeetus is from the Greek halos ‘sea’ and aestos ‘eagle’ and leucocephalus is Greek from leucos ‘white’ and kephalus ‘head’).

Size: Length: 27-35in Wingspan: 71-89in        

Weight: Female: 5244g(average)(11.5lb) Male: 4123g (average) (9.1lb)

Lifespan: In the wild, their average lifespan is 15 to 20 years. In captivity, they can live for 30 years or more.

ID: Juveniles are significantly different from mature adults. They are brown with white patches on the undersides of their wings. As they mature, they develop white spots all over their bodies, especially on the undersides of their bodies and their backs. It takes four to five years to develop adult plumage, which consists of a dark body and wings, and a white head and tail. There is no plumage difference between males and females.

Hunting: They fly low over rivers and other bodies of water and catch fish near the surface with their talons.

Prey: Bald eagles are primarily fish-eaters, but if the fish populations in their areas are low, they have been known to eat water birds and carrion. They also sometimes steal prey from other raptors.

Breeding: Bald eagles are monogamous, though if a mate dies, its partner will seek out a new one. They build nests in trees and other elevated areas within their territories. Clutches of 2 or 3 eggs are incubated for 35 days. It takes the hatchlings 3 to 4 weeks to reach their full size. The eaglets remain in their nest for an additional 2 or 3 months.

Range: They can live in most of the North American continent, though a great deal of their habitat is threatened by human development. They are considered to be partial migrators, where some eagles migrate during the year and others remain in a fixed location.

Status: Currently they are a Federal Endangered species and a California Endangered species. Bald Eagles are also protected under the Bald Eagle Protection Act.