BALD EAGLE

BALD EAGLE ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
DESCRIPTION: The Bald Eagle is a seabird that is brown except for the head, which is white. The tail also is white. The yellow bill is that of a fearsome predator and ends with a hook. The eyes are yellow. The legs are covered in feathers, and the feet are yellow with powerful brown talons. Both sexes look the same in terms of color, but females are larger, as is the case for many birds of prey. Juveniles, as can be seen below, are brown with some white on the wings. It takes them four years to reach adult plumage. The bald eagle is one of the larger eagles with a wing span of around 2 meters (6.5 feet) and a length of about one meter (39 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Haliaeetus-leucocephalus – Surprisingly for a bird that large, its calls are rather weak.
NAME: The English name ‘Eagle’  comes from French ‘Aigle’ and Latin ‘Aguila’, which means ‘eagle’. The bald eagle is not ‘bald’, but white-headed. The term ‘bald’ originates from an old meaning for a white head. The Latin genus name ‘Haliaeetus’ is from Greek and means ‘Osprey’ or ‘sea eagle’. As for the Latin species name ‘leucocephalus’, it means ‘white head’.
HABITAT: Near water with plenty of fish, also in mountain and open areas.
DIET: Mostly fish; birds and mammals, some carrion. Also steal prey from the smaller Osprey. See photos below of an adult going even further by attacking the Osprey itself.
In British Columbia each year there is a gathering of large numbers of bald eagles feasting on salmon.
NESTING: The bald eagle 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 collapses. About two white eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents. They also both feed the young. Here’s an article about a young rescued after falling off its nest during a storm.
DISTRIBUTION: The breeding range of the bald eagle covers most of Canada and Alaska up to the tree line. It is a year-round resident along the western coast of Alaska, British-Columbia and the northwest states of the USA, as well as the Canadian Maritimes and the Great Lakes area. In the winter it is also found in the remaining USA.
ON PEI: The bald eagle is a year-round resident on Prince Edward Island. and is fairly common.
CONSERVATION: Once close to extinction, bald eagle numbers have made a successful comeback, notably following the ban on DDT, and legal protection from hunting.  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. Bald eagles need large and healthy trees for their huge nests.
NOTES: The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States.
Osprey attack: Below are photos of an adult bald eagle attacking an osprey that was hunting for fish. The osprey desperately tries 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?
SIMILAR SPECIES: Golden Eagle, Turkey Vulture
REFERENCES: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/bald-eagle
http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/bald-eagle.html
https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/animal-facts-bald-eagle
https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/bald-eagle
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/bald_eagle/id
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bald_eagle

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

BACK TO THE TOP