The bald eagle's adult plumage, which everyone recognizes, is attained in the fourth year of the bird's life and replaced by identical feathers from then on.

How to Identify Bald Eagles, Young and Old

Most everyone, if asked how to identify a bald eagle, could at least stammer out a few words that, reduced to the simplest terms might be stated as follows, “big + brown + white head + white tail = bald eagle.” The basic equation isn’t false, but if you limit yourself to only the most basic field marks and recognizable plumages, you’ll be missing out on a lot of great stuff.
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Black and White Creeper, now called the Black-and-white Warbler. Illustration by John James Audubon.

Black and White Creeper »

Carbonated Warbler, a mystery bird painted and described by John James Audubon in the early 1800s.

Carbonated Warbler »

Chewink, now called Eastern Towhee. Illustration by John James Audubon.

Chewink »

Canada Jays, now called Gray Jays. Illustration by John Gerrard Keulemans.

Canada Jay »

Cherry-Birds, now called Cedar Waxwings. Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

Cherry-Bird »

Louisiana Heron, now called the Tricolored Heron. Illustration by John James Audubon.

Louisiana Heron »

White-headed Eagle, now called the Bald Eagle. Illustration by John James Audubon.

White-headed Eagle »

Frog Hawk, now called the Northern Harrier. Illustration by John James Audubon.

Frog Hawk »

Blue Jay: Backyard Enigma »

Warbler watchers look up until we contract it: Warbler neck.
The neck becomes stiff and sore. It's a small price to pay for seeing such a beautiful bird. Photo by Dawn Hewitt.

Warbler Neck »

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