Cornforth Images

Bald Eagle

Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are a bird of prey found in North America. They are most recognizable as the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. The Continental Congress adopted the current design for the Great Seal of the United States including a bald eagle grasping thirteen arrows and a thirteen-leaf olive branch with its talons on June 20, 1782. Its range includes most of Alaska and Canada, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting. About half of the world’s 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska. Combined with British Columbia’s population of about 20,000, the Northwest coast of North America is by far the greatest h1hold of the bald eagle. They flourish here in part because of the salmon. Dead or dying fish are an important food source for all bald eagles.

The plumage of an adult bald eagle is evenly brown with a white head and tail. Males and females are identical in plumage coloration, however females are 25 percent larger than males. Their beak, feet, and irises are bright yellow. The legs are unfeathered, and the toes are short and powerful with large talons. The plumage of an immature bald eagle is brown, speckled with white until the fourth or fifth year, when it reaches sexual maturity. Body length ranges from 28-38 in (71-96 cm). Adult females have a wingspan of up to 88 in (2.44 m), while adult males may be as small as 66 in (1.68 m). Adult females weigh approximately 12.8 lb (5.8 kg), and males weigh 9 lb (4.1 kg). The size of the bird varies by location; the smallest specimens are those from Florida, with the largest in Alaska.

Bald eagles were officially declared an endangered species in 1967 in all areas of the United States south of the 40th parallel, under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Until 1995, the bald eagle was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 43 of the 48 lower states. In July of 1995, the US Fish and Wildlife Service upgraded the status of bald eagles in the lower 48 states to “threatened.” On June 28, 2007 the Interior Department took the American bald eagle off the Endangered Species List.

The best locations to photograph bald eagles include the Chilkat River near Haines in the late fall, the Homer Spit and the Squamish River, BC during the winter, and any boat dock in SE Alaska when a fisherman is cleaning his catch.

Click the following links to view photos of the White Tailed Eagle and Steller’s Sea Eagle. You may also choose to return to the Eagles gallery or the Birds main gallery.

Terms: Bald Eagle photos, Bald Eagles, Bald Eagle hunting, Bald Eagle perched, Bald Eagle frontal profile, Bald Eagle screeching, Bald Eagle soaring, Bald Eagle perching, eagle stock photography