The bald eagle isn’t actually bald. It takes its name from the word “piebald,” which means something that is spotty or patchy. Adult eagles are dark brown, with white feathers covering their heads and tails. They also have hooked yellow beaks, large talons and feet equipped with small spikes, called “spicules,” which they use to grasp prey.
Young eagles are called “eaglets” and are light grey and fluffy when they first hatch. Their feathers turn dark brown when they’re about 12 weeks old and ready to leave the nest. The feathers on their heads and tails won’t turn white until they’re about four or five years old.
Bald eagles make their homes in forested areas near large bodies of water. This environment ensures good fishing and large trees for nesting. Eagles prefer areas that are isolated from humans.
The bald eagle is the only eagle exclusive to North America. They are at the top of the food chain and have few natural enemies. When bald eagle populations dwindle, it’s likely because humans have interfered with their natural habitat. Most of Canada’s bald eagle population is found along the Pacific coast of British Columbia. Healthy eagle populations are also found in the boreal forests of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. Small groups of eagles also make their homes in southern Quebec, Cape Breton and along the coast of Newfoundland.
Fast Facts: Bald Eagle
Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Average wingspan: More than two metres
Average lifespan: Up to 28 years in the wild
Bald eagles have super eyesight. They can see four to seven times farther than humans.
Bald eagles are not actually bald; their name comes from the word “piebald,” which means spotty or patchy.
The bald eagle is Canada’s largest bird of prey.
Did you know?
When a bald eagle loses a feather on one wing, it will lose a feather on the other in order to keep its balance.