Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Soaring

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Bald Eagle Perched

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Bald Eagle Skimming Over Water

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Bald Eagle (Immature)

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Bald Eagle Nest

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Bald Eagle Flapping

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Bald Eagle Flying

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Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagle

Photo of bald eagle
Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Accipitridae (hawks and eagles) in the order Falconiformes

Mature bald eagles have a dark brown body with white head and tail. The large, hooked bill, strong talons, and irises of the eyes are yellow. Females are larger than males, but otherwise the sexes look alike. In flight, bald eagles soar on rising warm air currents on flattened wings (not holding them V-shaped). Juveniles are all brown, with white speckles. Voice is a series of chirps or a loud screaming whistle.

Length: 36 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail); wingspan: 84 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Bald eagles are usually observed near lakes, rivers, and marshes as they forage for fish or carrion. The bald eagle’s return to the Lower 48 is a conservation success story: Although historically about 20,000 pairs nested in the United States, by the 1950s only about 3,000 pairs were nesting. Today, over 10,000 pairs nest in the United States annually, including about 200 in our state, as of 2010.
Fish and carrion make up most of the diet.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Bald eagles are usually observed statewide near lakes, rivers, and marshes, particularly during the winter.
Uncommon migrant. Though they have made a dramatic comeback on our continent, their presence is still vulnerable within our state, and they remain a Species of Conservation Concern.
Life cycle: 
Bald eagles reach maturity at age 4 or 5, and usually breed near where they were born. They generally mate for life, but if one of the pair disappears or dies, the survivor finds another mate. Courtship includes special calls and flight displays. The nest is large and can be 13 feet deep and 8 feet across. A pair produces 1–3 eggs annually, but rarely do all three chicks reach maturity.
Human connections: 
As a cherished U.S. national symbol, the bald eagle’s value is hard to estimate. In some Native American cultures, bald eagles are held sacred, and their feathers are important symbols.
Ecosystem connections: 
Bald eagles are top predators, particularly of fish, as well as important scavengers.
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