Groups of Bald Eagles

Beyond the Beak: Inside the Incredible Life of Bald Eagles

These Interesting facts about the Bald Eagle will provide some insight into these awesome bird of prey. Did you know that Bald Eagles dumpster dive and are excellent swimmers?! Learn all about these birds of prey with these 17 Bald Eagle Facts!

Did you know you’ll mainly find Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in North America, but there are occasional sightings in northern Mexico. Although it is the national bird of the United States of America, Canada also has plenty.

Let’s get right to it!!

1. Bald Eagles Are Not Actually Bald

Bald Eagles Are Not Actually Bald

The name “Bald Eagle” comes from an old meaning of the word “bald,” which used to mean “white-headed.” Additionally, it’s this bright white head that contributes to their name.

  • Their white feathers only appear when they are 4 to 5 years old.
  • Juvenile bald eagles are a mix of brown and white.
  • The term “bald” likely comes from the Old English word “balde,” which means white. 

2. Bald Eagles Build Huge Nests During Breeding Season

Bald Eagles Build Huge Nests During Breeding Season

Bald Eagles are known to build some of the largest bird nests.

  • Their nests, called aeries, can be up to 8 feet wide and weigh up to a ton. 
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest on record was in Florida and measured 20 feet deep.
  • Eagles use the same nest each year, continually adding materials.

3. Incredible Hunters with Excellent Eyesight

a bald eagle is an Incredible Hunters with Excellent Eyesight

Bald Eagles have an exceptional hunting technique using their powerful, large talons.

  • They can dive at a speed of up to 100 miles per hour to catch prey.
  • Their vision is about 4-8 times stronger than a human’s.
  • They primarily eat fish but will also hunt small mammals and other birds.

4. Bald Eagles Are Monogamous

Bald Eagles Are Monogamous

These birds generally mate for life and have a unique way of strengthening their bond.

  • Pairs perform intricate aerial displays and acrobatics during courtship.
  • If their mate dies, they might seek a new partner.
  • They return to the same nesting sites every year with their mate.

5. They Can Live a Long Time

Bald Eagles can live up to 30 years

In the wild, Bald Eagles can live up to 30 years, and even longer in captivity.

  • The oldest recorded wild bald eagle lived to be 38 years old.
  • In captivity, they can live up to 50 years.
  • Their long life span is partially due to their position at the top of the food chain.

6. Bald Eagles Use Their Wings for More Than Flying

Bald Eagles Use Their Wings for More Than Flying

Their wings are also used for communication and displays.

  • With a wingspan of 5.5-8 feet, Bald Eagles can spread their wings to appear larger and scare off competitors. 
  • They also use wing gestures to signal distress or alertness to other eagles.
  • During courtship, they showcase dramatic wing displays.

7. Their Calls Can Sound Like Gulls

Find this audio at: Russ Wigh, XC769877. Accessible at

Contrary to their fierce appearance, Bald Eagles have a rather gentle call. 

  • Their calls include whistles, chirps, and clicks.
  • Each eagle’s call is unique and can be used to identify individuals.
  • Their vocal sounds are less fierce than many other birds of prey.

8. Dedicated Parents

bald eagle parent are dedicated

A pair of Bald Eagles are exceptionally attentive and caring when it comes to raising their young. It’s not just the female Bald Eagles that do the work.

  • Both parents share the responsibilities of nest-building, incubation, and feeding.
  • They often return to the same nesting sites yearly to raise their young.
  • The young eagles, or eaglets, are fed a rich diet of fish and meat, ensuring high survival rates.

9. They Thrive in Cold Climates

Bald Eagles can live in cold weather

Bald Eagles are well adapted to survive in very chilly environments. You’ll see a large Bald Eagle population in Alaska and Canada!

  • Their feathers provide insulation in cold weather.
  • They have a special circulation system in their legs to keep them warm.
  • Many Bald Eagles migrate to the coast of Alaska where they fish in the nutrient-rich waters.

10. Important to Native American Cultures

Bald Eagles hold significant cultural importance

Bald Eagles hold significant cultural importance among various Native Americans and associated groups.

  • They are seen as spiritual messengers between gods and humans.
  • Feathers and parts of bald eagles are used in ceremonial attire and rituals.
  • Popular legend shows the eagle to be revered for its courage and wisdom.

11. The Origin of the Term “Eagle Eye”

The Origin of the Term _Eagle Eye

The term “eagle eye” derives from the bald eagle’s incredible visual capabilities, symbolizing keen observation and attention to detail.

  • Exceptional Vision: Bald Eagles have eyesight that is 4 to 8 times sharper than that of an average human, allowing them to spot prey from several kilometers away.
  • Focus and Clarity: Their eyes are specially adapted to hunt in both bright and dim light, with a high concentration of cones for detecting fine details.
  • Wide Field of View: Eagles can see over a large area without moving their heads, thanks to their wide field of view, which includes excellent peripheral vision.

12. Groups of Bald Eagles Have Cool Names

Groups of Bald Eagles

Though not commonly seen together due to their solitary nature, groups of Bald Eagles have several intriguing names when they do gather. Sometimes, you’ll see them hanging out on fishing docks, raiding the fishermen’s bounty! Check out this article on groups of Bald Eagle names!

  • Convocation: One of the most formal terms, a “convocation” of eagles, reflects their regal and majestic demeanor.
  • Aerie: This term is also used to describe a group of eagles, but it is more commonly known as the name for their nest sites.
  • Jubilee: A less common but celebratory term, a “jubilee” of eagles, captures the awe-inspiring sight of multiple eagles congregating.

13. Vocal Development in Young Bald Eagles

These are calls from a nest. Most of the calls seem to be from adults, but some may be the babies or young ones.

Jacob Saucier, XC499561. Accessible at

These are calls from a nest. Most of the calls seem to be from adults, but some may be the babies or young ones. Baby Eagles begin to develop their distinct vocalizations as early as four weeks old, and their early calls might surprise you.

  • Early Sounds: Initially, the calls of young bald eagles can resemble the sounds of seagulls, which are high-pitched and somewhat raspy.
  • Maturation of Voice: As they grow, their calls deepen and gain the richer, more robust quality typical of adult bald eagles.
  • Communication Skills: These early vocal practices are crucial as they learn to communicate effectively with their parents and later, to signal their presence and defend their territory.

14. Eagles Sleep at Night

Eagle sleeping

Bald eagles are primarily diurnal, meaning they are active during the day rather than at night. Do eagles hunt at night? Nope, it’s not typical!

  • Daytime Activity: Like most birds of prey, (except for owls and a few others) bald eagles hunt and fly primarily in daylight.
  • Night Vision: While their night vision is good, it is not adapted for hunting in the dark like that of some owls.
  • Resting at Night: Eagles typically use the night hours to rest in their nests or perches, conserving energy for daytime activities.

15. Bald Eagles Can Swim

bald Eagle swimming

Surprisingly, bald eagles are quite capable swimmers, a lesser-known aspect of their skill set.

  • Swimming Technique: When necessary, bald eagles use a swimming style similar to the dog paddle, using their powerful wings to propel themselves in water.
  • Catching Fish: Occasionally, if an eagle catches a fish that’s too heavy to lift, it may swim to shore with it rather than abandon its catch.
  • Waterproof Feathers: Their feathers are water-resistant, which helps them stay buoyant and not get too waterlogged while swimming.

16. Generations of Eagles Will Use the Same Nest

eagle nest is shared among generations

Bald eagle nests are not only architectural feats but also often passed down through generations.

  • Nest Inheritance: A bald eagle raised in a specific nest may return to that same nest as an adult to raise its own young.
  • Nest Expansion: Over the years, eagles continually add sticks and other materials, causing the nest to grow larger and stronger with each season.
  • Generational Use: This process can lead to nests being used by multiple generations of eagles, deepening their connection to a particular locale.

17. Bald Eagles are Known to Dumpster Dive

Bald Eagle in a dumpster with some seagulls too

Bald eagles are known not only for their hunting prowess but also for their scavenging behavior.

  • Opportunistic Feeders: Eagles will often scavenge dead animals or fish, particularly in winter when live prey is harder to catch.
  • Stealing Food: They are notorious for stealing food right out of other animals’ mouths, showcasing their dominant nature in the food chain.
  • Urban Scavenging: In places like Homer, Alaska, bald eagles have been observed dumpster diving at fast food restaurants, adapting to urban environments to find food.