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Mountain Nature Network has become THE place for learning about the birds of the Canadian Rockies.

Bald Eagle
Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Hawks, Eagles and Falcons
Hawk Family (Accipitridae)

Size: Length: 75-110 cm Wingspan: 170-240 cm

Description: The bald eagle is a beautiful bird, and the national symbol of the United States, Look for a dark hawk, brown all over with the exception of a white head and white fan-shaped tail. The beak is yellow. Immature birds lack the white head and tail.

Similar Species: Immature bald eagles may be mistaken for golden eagle , but lack the golden tint on the nape of golden eagle. The golden eagle also has more heavily feathered feet.

They are sometimes confused with osprey , but lack the black mask and wrist patch so visible on the osprey.

Range: Bald eagles can be seen throughout the Canadian and American Rockies, although uncommon. They occasionally overwinter in areas with open water.

Habitat: Bald eagles are usually found near water, where they can find plenty of fish, or at least steal them from osprey.

Diet: Bald eagles eat mostly fish, often stealing them from osprey. They are also fond of carrion and the occasional duck.

Nesting: Prior to mating, bald eagles will often perform elaborate aerial dances, with amazing aerial acrobatics. They will either select a nest site in a large tree near to water, or reuse a previous nest.

The nest of the bald eagle build the largest nests of any North American Bird. They may be as wide as 1.5-2 m (5-6.5 ft) across and almost 1 m (3.3 ft) high. Some pairs mate for life, often returning to the same nest year after year, adding more material to the already bulky platform. This process of renovation can create huge nests. One nest measured 3 m (10 ft) across and 6 m (20 ft) high.

They lay an average of 2 white eggs, with both parents sharing in the incubation. They hatch after 35-46 days. The hatchlings are altricial and downy. Both parents bring food to the young eagles. Since the eggs hatch at different times, the first eaglet to hatch may kill its sibling, or starve it (since the last to hatch will be smaller). They will usually leave the nest at 10-11 weeks, but may return for a few weeks for food.

Related Links:

Hinterland Who's Who - Bald Eagle

Search for recent Bald Eagle sightings

Hire an expert guide to help you locate Bald Eagle

Bird watching in the Canadian Rockies offers endless opportunities for seeing new species. Mountain Nature Network is your source for birding and bird biology.

All Material Ward Cameron 2005



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