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?
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.