Bald Eagle

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

America's National Symbol

As the National Symbol of the United States of America, the bald eagle has a majestic and regal reputation. All bald eagles are protected under several lawful acts, and those in human care are considered property of the federal government.

About the Species

Bald eagles are agile hunters, but they also assume the role of cunning thieves.

Bald eagles can use their keen eyesight and incredibly strong talons to spot and swipe fish from running streams and pristine lakes. This takes a lot of effort, however, and bald eagles are known for letting other predators do the hard work for them. They are commonly seen stealing prey from smaller raptors such as osprey, a "fishy" behavior that drove Benjamin Franklin to suggest the wild turkey as the national bird instead of the bald eagle. The bald eagle is not actually bald, but has a white head of feathers! This coloration develops with maturity, around 7 years of age. The bald eagle was once endangered, but after becoming protected under the Endangered Species Act, these majestic aerial predators have made an extraordinary comeback. They are now considered a common species, but remain protected in the United States.

Words From the Experts

Quotes

These birds are our National Symbol. We have 3 Bald Eagles who are permanent residents here at the Zoo, all of which were injured in the wild and are unable to fly. This is also why they do not leave their open air habitat!

Madison

Did You Know?

Bald eagle nests can reach up to 10 ft across and 20 ft deep!

Facts

Origin

Northern Canada to Northern Mexico

Habitat

Temperate forests near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and marshes

Size

Height: 71-96 cm, Wingspan: 168-244 cm, Weight: 2.5-6.3 kg

Diet

Predominantly fish, supplemented with birds, crustaceans, amphibians, small mammals, and reptiles

Predators

Other animals likely prey upon eggs and chicks. Adults have no natural predators.

Natural Defenses

Large talons and curved beaks

Reproduction

These birds mate for life. Pairs will lock talons and tumble through the air in a spectacular mating display. They tend to add to the same nests year after year, resulting in some of the largest nests in the world.

Status

Formerly Endangered, now Least Concern

Life Expectancy

Up to 28 years in the wild or 36 years in human care

  • Saving Animals From Extinction
  • Culture Builds Florida
  • Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums
MENU