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Bird Identification

Bald Eagle

Haliaeetus Ieucocephalus L 31-37" (79-94 cm)

Play song/call for bald eagle

Photo by Ned Harris.

The adult bald eagle is readily identified by its white head and tail and its large yellow bill. The gleaming white head and tail contrast with the bird's chocolate brown body and wings, making it unmistakable. Juveniles are mostly dark, with blotchy white on their underwing coverts, axillaries, and tail. Their body length varies from about three to three and a half feet feet, and their wingspans reach up to seven and a half feet. They weigh from eight to 14 pounds.

Bald eagles can be found throughout much of North America, either as nesters, wintering birds, or as migrants. They nest from Alaska east to Newfoundland, down the coast of Maine, west to the Great Lakes (where there is a large population) and then back west across Canada and in all but a few of the lower 48 states. Outside of such large population centers as Florida, the Great Lakes, and the Chesapeake Bay, bald eagle populations are often localized. They are seen most often on seacoasts or near rivers and lakes.

For such a regal beast, the bald eagle has a fairly feeble voice, described by David Allen Sibley as rather weak, flat, chirping whistles, stuttering, variable. Adults give a two-syllable kee-yep or chirp in a slow, measured series.

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