25 Bald Eagle Facts

Bald Eagle

How much do you know about the iconic Bald Eagle?

Most people know that Bald Eagles are the national bird of the United States, since 1782.

But, do you know all these weird and wonderful facts about Bald Eagles?

Also, check out the Eagle Nest Cams if you want to get a closer look at Bald Eagle nests and young.

1. Don’t look up when Bald Eagles take flight from a perch as they will often poo!

That will really take the joy out of spotting one of these magnificent birds.

2. It is illegal to kill a Bald Eagle

They are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle protection code and the migratory bird protection treaty act.

3. They have a 7-foot wingspan the same as a Cadillac car

Bald Eagle flying

4. They weigh up to 14 pounds about the same as a gallon of paint or a cat

5. They are Thiefs

Rather than catching their own prey, Bald Eagles will harass smaller birds of prey, such as Osprey until they drop their catch. The Bald Eagle will then swoop down and catch it for themselves.

They will also steal food from otters and scavenge for dead animals and at dumps.

6. Alaskan Bald Eagles are bigger than those from South Carolina

According to Bergmann’s rule, species increase in size the further away from the equator they are. This is due to the fact that it is colder the further away from the equator you go and therefore animals need to be bigger to keep warm.

So the biggest Bald Eagles found in Alaska are up to a quarter larger than those found on the Gulf Coast.

7. Female Bald Eagles are 25% larger than males

Female Bald Eagles weigh on average 12 pounds (5.6 kg)

Male Bald Eagles weigh on average 9 pounds (4.1 kg)

8. Once on the endangered list, the Bald Eagle was removed in 2007

The banning of chemicals such as DDT and fantastic conservation efforts has helped the Bald Eagle numbers soar.

A report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife department found that numbers have increased fourfold, from 72,000 in 2009 up to 316,000 in 2019.

9. They are not bald but have white head feathers that make them look bald against their black bodies

10. The iconic bald look does not develop until they are 5 years old

Bald Eagle young

Until they are 5 years old, Bald Eagles are dark brown with mottled white head feathers that get more white as they age.

11. Bald Eagles are fish eagles or sea eagles and regularly catch 20-pound salmon.

Bald Eagle hunting

12. Waiting for fish to swim past while perched on a tree, is their preferred way to hunt

Bald Eagles prefer to sit and wait rather than continuously flying around looking for fish.

13. North America is their only home, they are not found on any other continent

So if you don’t live here then you need to visit to see Bald Eagles or visit a zoo.

14. Bald Eagles live for around 30 years

That is a long time but not as long as cockatoos that have been recorded at over 100 years old.

15. They reach speeds of 35 – 43 mph (56 – 70 km/h)

Bald Eagle flying

16. During courtship a pair will fly up, lock talons and tumble in cartwheels back down before breaking their hold just before they crash into the ground

This courtship display takes a lot of practice to get right.

17. They feast and famine

After gorging, Bald Eagles may go for several days without eating as they are still digesting the original meal.

They can also survive without eating for several days or even weeks.

18. Nests are huge and measure 5 – 6 feet across (1.5 – 1.8 meters) and 2.5 – 4 feet deep (0.7 – 1.2 meters)

Bald Eagle nest

Bald Eagle nests are called eyrie and are made up of large interconnecting sticks, cornstalks and rubbish. The inside cup of the nest is made from softer materials such as conifer sprigs, grass, moss, weeds and sod.

One of the largest Bald Eagle nests recorded was in Ohio which measured 9 feet wide and 12 feet high!

19. Eggs of Bald Eagles risk feezing if disturbed

Bald Eagles will lay their eggs between February and April, often when there is still snow and ice. Any disturbance such as people getting too close will cause the adults to fly off and expose the eggs to the cold temperatures.

20. Their eggs are large and weigh 0.28 pounds (130 grams) the same as an apple

Eggs are white in color and take 35 days to hatch. Bald Eagles will usually lay 2 to 3 eggs over a few days and they will hatch in order of being laid, giving an advantage to the first born.

21. Eaglets gain up to 3.5 oz for males and 4.2 oz a day for females

Bald Eagle young

Male bald eagles gain about the same weight as a stick of butter a day.

22. The first flight of young Bald Eagles is usually around 10 – 12 weeks

23. Chickens, geese and lambs are on the menu for Bald Eagles…are pets next?

The New York Post reported that a farmer in Idaho claims to have lost 54 lambs in a couple of months.

Worried pet dog and cat owners are putting spiked vests on their animals in Canada, but there have not been reported pet dog or cat snatching by Bald Eagles.

24. Their talons are 2 inches long

Bald Eagle talons prey

An adult Bald Eagle’s talons can grab prey with the same force as a lion’s bite. They can exert 1000 pounds of pressure per square inch.  Humans can only bite less than 200 psi.

25. Bald Eagle’s feet are the same size as a human hand

If extended and measured from the tip of the front to rear talon a Bald Eagle’s foot measures around 7 inches long. A human male hand is 7 inches from wrist to fingertip.