Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles on the Mississippi River in Le Claire IA in February 2012.


Bald Eagle

Binomial name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies

Description: Brown with a white head and white tail feathers.  Yellow eyes, beak, and feet.

Size: 28″ – 40″ long, 5.9′ – 7.5′ wingspan

Weight: 6.6 lbs. – 14 lbs.

Habitat: Forested areas near open bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, wetlands, and coastal shorelines.

Diet: Mostly fish but occasionally small mammals, ducks, and gulls.

Nesting: Both parents gather materials although the female does most of the building.  The nests are made out of branches and sticks and then lined with grass, moss, and feathers.  They may be rebuilt and reused repeatedly over many years. The typical clutch size is 1 to 3 eggs.  Both parents will incubate the eggs with the female incubating more often while the male hunts for food.  The young will fledge as early as 8 weeks after hatching, or up to 14 weeks.

Notes: Bald eagles mate for life (if one partner dies, the remaining will choose a new mate).  They engage in elaborate courtship rituals which involves a locking of talons followed by a free fall; they separate just before hitting the ground.  The Bald Eagle is the national bird and national animal of the United States of America, appearing on many official seals of the government.