BALD EAGLE

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

The bald eagle is not ‘bald’, but white-headed. The term ‘bald’ originates from an old meaning of a white head. The tail is also white, with the rest of the plumage medium brown. Juveniles, as can be seen below, are entirely brown. Both sexes look the same in terms of color, but females are larger, as is the case for many birds of prey. The bald eagle is one of the larger eagles with a wing span of around 2 meters (6.5 feet) and is considered a sea bird due to its diet of mainly fish.

However if given the opportunity it will attack birds as well, as can be seen below where one adult bald eagle attacks an osprey that’s desperately trying to fly off the water before the eagle swoops down on it. The eagle made more than one pass, eventually was able to catch the osprey and carried it away for a short distance before dropping it off in the end. Will that osprey survive the injuries from the eagle’s talons?

1 Osprey attacked from behind by bald eagle - May 1, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
1 Osprey attacked from behind by bald eagle – May 1, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
4 Osprey trying to flee bald eagle - May 1, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
4 Osprey trying to flee bald eagle – May 1, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
2 Bald eagle going for osprey - May 1, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
2 Bald eagle going for osprey – May 1, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
5 Bald eagle caught osprey - May 1, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
5 Bald eagle caught osprey – May 1, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
3 Bald eagle hit osprey on this pass - May 1, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
3 Bald eagle hit osprey on this pass – May 1, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley

The bald eagle is a year-round resident in PEI, and is known to build the largest nest structure in a tree. The nest becomes large because it is used year after year and the eagles add new material to it each year. Sometimes the nest becomes so heavy that it will collapse. Needless to say, bald eagles therefore need large and healthy trees for their nests. Their habitat is near water containing fish, which is why it is common in PEI. The bald eagle has a special significance for First Nations people and is the national bird of the United States.

Conservation: Once close to extinction, bald eagle numbers have made a successful comeback, notably following the ban on DDT.  Although adults are considered apex predators, their eggs and chicks are vulnerable. Sometimes an adult can be caught in fishing gear, such as in this instance here. There’s also good information on the bald eagle on this website.

Bald eagle - North Rustico, PEI - Apr. 9, 2017 - by Matt Beardsley
Bald eagle – North Rustico, PEI – Apr. 9, 2017 – by Matt Beardsley
 Juvenile bald eagles at play over Hope River - Cavendish, PEI - Mar. 25, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
Juvenile bald eagles at play over Hope River – Cavendish, PEI – Mar. 25, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
This Bald eagle has a band on its leg - Irishtown area, PEI - May 24, 2017 - by Chris Rice
This Bald eagle has a band on its leg – Irishtown area, PEI – May 24, 2017 – by Chris Rice
Bald Eagle juvenile sparring with an adult - North Lake, PEI - June 7, 2017 - © Isobel Fitzpatrick
Bald Eagle juvenile sparring with an adult – North Lake, PEI – June 7, 2017 – © Isobel Fitzpatrick
Pair of bald eagles - North Rustico, PEI - Feb. 11, 2017 - by Matt Beardsley
Pair of bald eagles – North Rustico, PEI – Feb. 11, 2017 – by Matt Beardsley
Bald eagle flying away from photographer - Rustico, PEI - June 21, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
Bald eagle flying away from photographer – Rustico, PEI – June 21, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
Pair of juvenile bald eagles over the north shore - PEI, June 7, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
Pair of juvenile bald eagles over the north shore – PEI, June 7, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
Immature bald eagle chasing a herring gull - Rustico, PEI - Feb. 27, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
Immature bald eagle chasing a herring gull away, probably from a food source – Rustico, PEI – Feb. 27, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
Bald Eagle going after a scaup - Oyster Bed Bridge, PEI - Feb. 4, 2018 - Don McLelland
Bald Eagle going after a scaup, and did get one in the end – Oyster Bed Bridge, PEI – Feb. 4, 2018 – Don McLelland
Bald eagle in flight - Apr. 2, 2017 - North Rustico, PEI - by Matt Beardsley
Bald eagle in flight – Apr. 2, 2017 – North Rustico, PEI – by Matt Beardsley
Juvenile bald eagle - North Rustico, PEI - June 7, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
Juvenile bald eagle – North Rustico, PEI – June 7, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
American crow 'buzzing the tower' - May 30, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
American crow ‘buzzing the tower’ – May 30, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
This Bald Eagle looks like it's trying to regurgitate something while the American Crow is looking up - Grand River area, PEI - Feb.19, 2018 - by Don McLelland
This Bald Eagle looks like it’s trying to regurgitate something while the American Crow is looking on – Grand River area, PEI – Feb.19, 2018 – Don McLelland
Bald Eagle, juvenile - Northport, PEI - Apr. 16, 2018 - © Marie Smith
Bald Eagle, juvenile. Note the color pattern of the wings – Northport, PEI – Apr. 16, 2018 – © Marie Smith

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