Bald eagle

The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey found in North America. A sea eagle, it has two known subspecies and forms a species pair with the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.

Bald eagle
Temporal range: Pleistocene-Recent 0.3–0 Ma[1]
Bald eagle preparing to fly at Kachemak Bay, Alaska, United States
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Haliaeetus
Species:
H. leucocephalus
Binomial name
Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Subspecies
  • H. l. leucocephalus – southern bald eagle
  • H. l. washingtoniensis – northern bald eagle
Bald eagle range
  Breeding resident
  Breeding summer visitor
  Winter visitor
  On migration only
Star: accidental records
Synonyms
  • Falco leucocephalus Linnaeus, 1766

The bald eagle is an opportunistic feeder which subsists mainly on fish, which it swoops down and snatches from the water with its talons. It builds the largest nest of any North American bird and the largest tree nests ever recorded for any animal species, up to 4 m (13 ft) deep, 2.5 m (8.2 ft) wide, and 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) in weight. Sexual maturity is attained at the age of four to five years.

Bald eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of the word, "white headed". The adult is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The sexes are identical in plumage, but females are about 25 percent larger than males. The yellow beak is large and hooked. The plumage of the immature is brown.

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States of America. The bald eagle appears on its seal. In the late 20th century it was on the brink of extirpation in the contiguous United States. Populations have since recovered, and the species was removed from the U.S. government's list of endangered species on July 12, 1995, and transferred to the list of threatened species. It was removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in the contiguous states on June 28, 2007.