Bald Eagle Facts

The bald eagle is found in North America and lives in areas in Canada, the United States (including Alaska) and Mexico. It is the only eagle that is native to these areas and found nowhere else and is the national bird of the United States. Historically, the word ‘bald’ at one time, meant ‘white’ as opposed to how we use it today to mean ‘no hair’.

Bald Eagle Facts for Kids

  • Eagles are part of the “Accipitridae” family of birds that include old-world vultures, kites and hawks. There are four groups of eagles within this group and the bald eagle is defined as being part of the fish or sea eagle.
  • In the past, bald eagles are divided into two ‘sub-species’, but since each group has been found on all territories, the sub-species names have been dropped.
  • The Northern bald eagle: Slightly bigger in size and found from the Midwest to the furthest northern areas of the continent, including Alaska.
  • The Southern bald eagle: Slightly smaller and found as far south as Florida, Texas and the Mexico Baja area.
  • Bald eagles are the national bird of the United States
  • Adult female and male bald eagles can be identified with the notable white head and tail, a brownish-black back and breast, yellow-tone legs, feet and beak and their eyes are a pale yellow. They develop their full colors at about the age of five years, gradually changing their immature colors.
  • Immature bald eagles are often confused with hawks or vultures. They have brown and white features, a black beak, and the younger birds have brown eyes.

 

 

There are some bald eagles that have a genetic mutation that can affect the color of their feathers. It is known as leucism and can cause them to have white patches on their feathers with the rest of the feathers faded or pale in color. Some have been known to be almost completely white.

  • Bald eagles mate for life, but if their mate dies they will select another mate.
  • The size of the bald eagle depends on the area that they live in. The female bald eagle size can be from 35-37 inches with a wingspan of 79-90 inches. The male is smaller, with a body size of 30-34 inches and a 72-85 inch wingspan. Weight is at an average of ten to fourteen pounds.
  • A bald eagle has eyesight that is four times sharper than a human being’s eyesight.
  • The bald eagle will eat carrion (dead things) as well as fish, but will not carry anything into the air that is over about 4 lbs.
  • The bald eagle has a sharp downward pointed beak that they use to tear apart their prey and long sharp talons that are used to kill and then pick up and carry their prey into the air.

Animals at the top of the food chain consume all other animals that contain pesticides and poisons. Those at the top of the food chain therefore are in more danger due to eating the toxins. Bald eagles are birds that are at the top of the food chain.

  • The bald eagle can live from twenty to thirty years in the wild. In captivity, bald eagles have been known to live as long as forty eight years.
  • At one point in American history, the bald eagle was killed and hunted to nearing extinction. The species was placed on the ‘endangered species’ list and it was against the law to shoot or kill a bald eagle. Due to the success of their growth, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007.
  • The bald eagle population grew from a mere 450 nesting pairs in the 1960’s to over 4,500 nest pairs by the 1990’s.