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BALD EAGLE

Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Order
Accipitriformes (hawks, eagles, vultures)

Family
Accipitridae

Habitat & Range
The bald eagle nests in old growth trees found along rivers and large lakes. They range from as far north as Alaska and Canada, throughout the United States, and as far south as northern Mexico. Bald eagles will migrate to the coasts if inland water sources freeze.

Identification
The bald eagle has dark brown plumage on its body with a white head and tail. Immature eagles less than 4 to 5 years old have all brown-black plumage with a random scattering of whitish feathers. Adults measure anywhere between 34 to 43 inches, and have wingspans measuring 6 to 8 feet long. The adult eagle will weigh between 6 and 14 pounds, with the female often growing to be the larger of the sexes.

Diet
Bald eagles are opportunistic feeders. They swoop down and snatch fish out of the water with their large talons. The eagle has excellent eyesight and can spot fish in the water from hundreds of feet in the air.

Reproduction & Lifespan
Bald eagles form life-long monogamous bonds. They build enormous nests that can measure as large as 7 to 8 feet across and 12 feet deep. The nest is often returned to and reused by the same two mates for consecutive years.

Eggs are typically laid sometime between March and May. Both males and females share parental duties. The lifespan of the bald eagle in the wild is 20 to 30 years.

Fantastic Fact
A Death-Defying Courtship
The bald eagle mating ritual involves elaborate calls and spectacular flight displays. A male and female will climb, chase and swoop around each other before locking talons and plummeting to earth, only to break apart at the last minute. When the female has chosen her mate, she makes a head-bowing gesture to the male.
 
 
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