American bald eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalus
American bald eagle


The Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for native people for far longer than that.

Bald eagles are a North American species that historically occurred throughout the contiguous United States and Alaska. The largest North American breeding populations are in Alaska and Canada, but there are also significant bald eagle populations in the Great Lakes states, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, the Greater Yellowstone area, and the Chesapeake Bay region.


Adult bald eagles have the dark brown body and distinctive white head and tail.  In contrast, juvenile bald eagles have mottled brown and white plumage.  They gradually acquire the adult plumage as they mature, which takes about five years. Most bald eagles can breed at 4 or 5 years of age, but many do not start breeding until much older.  Bald eagles may live 15 to 25 years in the wild.


Bald eagles are opportunistic feeders with fish comprising much of their diet.  They also eat waterfowl, shorebirds, colonial waterbirds, small mammals, turtles, and carrion (often along roads or at landfills). Because they are visual hunters, eagles typically locate their prey from a conspicuous perch, or soaring flight, then swoop down and strike.


The life history of bald eagles can be broadly categorized into nesting and non-nesting periods.  The nesting period varies by latitude; in the Midwest it begins with courtship and nest building in late January and early February and ends when the young fledge by late July.  The non-nesting period is thus from August through mid-January. Learn more. 

Facts About American bald eagle


28-37.8 inches long

80.3 wingspan

105.8-222.2 ounces