Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Immature Bald Eagle Take Off - Photo Taken from E-Fauna BC, Photo Credit  Derek Holzapfel (2011).

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephlus)

 

Range/Habitat

                Bald Eagles exist all over North America. Their native range is all of Canada, the United States and parts of Mexico. There are heavy concentrations of Bald Eagles in the Pacific Northwest and Florida. These birds get most of their food from water sources, so they will be found near water sources, most preferably in tall coniferous trees that offer them good visibility. In places where there is limited predation on them, Bald Eagles have been seen nesting on the ground or on cliffs. However, human disturbance heavily affects Bald Eagles, they will avoid people even if it means going without food or nesting further away from their food source.

Physical Description

                The typical mature bald eagle will have a head and tail are covered with white feathers, their beaks and eyes are yellow, they have a dark body and no feathers on their lower legs. However, Bald Eagles do not reach this colour phase until their fifth year of life. Before that they go through different stages and colourations, but an immature bald eagle will have an overall darker and mottled body colour and a dark beak. When immature bald eagles fly, they will have a blotchy white colouration found on the underside of their wing coverts. These are large birds, and there is no difference in colour between the sexes, but the females are larger in size.

Diet

Bald Eagles have an opportunistic behavior when it comes to food, allowing them a wide array of potential food sources. Although, much of a Bald Eagle’s diet is fish. They will feed on salmon, cod, bass and many other fish. The eagle does not dive for fish but rather submerge only their legs to seize and remove fish that are close to the surface of the water, therefore Bald Eagles do not have feathers on their lower legs. Another large part of their diet is adult water birds and their eggs, like common murres, herons, snow geese etc. Winter forces the Bald Eagle to consume more carrion from big game and/or steal food from other birds.

Human Interaction

                For a positive human interaction, Bald Eagles are gorgeous bird that many birders go out of their way to view. Birding every year brings in millions to the economy. As for negative interaction with people, there are not many, the Bald Eagle does have some habitat requirements that, when conserved, can lead to development restrictions near Bald Eagle nesting areas.

References

                Martina SL. 2013. “Haliaeetus Leucocephalus”. animaldiversity.org/Haliaeetus_leucocephalus Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

Call of a Bald Eagle

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