Deep in the heart of Florida, soaring high above the lush wetlands and vast forests, four majestic species of eagles call this state home.
From the mighty Bald Eagle to the elusive Steller’s Sea Eagle, these powerful birds of prey are a sight to behold.
But with so many different types of eagles in Florida, how can you tell them apart?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the unique characteristics and habitats of the Bald Eagle, the Golden Eagle, the White-Tailed Eagle, and the Steller’s Sea Eagle, and explore what makes each of these incredible birds so special.
|Steller's Sea Eagle|
Types of Eagles in Florida
1. Bald Eagle
The American bald eagle is the state bird of Florida, and it’s the most frequent kind of eagle you will see there.
It is also the national bird of the United States.
It is a huge sea eagle that is very impressive to look at thanks to its white tail and head as well as its black body feathers.
It has brilliant yellow eyes that are piercing, a huge, hooked beak, and strong feet. Additionally, it has long claws that are sharp.
The bald eagle, like other types of sea eagles, lacks feathers on its legs.
Eagles that are often known as bald are not really bald.
The term “bald,” which means white in ancient English, is where the name comes from, and it refers to the hue of the feathers on the bird’s head and tail.
The bald eagle may be found in every region of North America.
There are two different subspecies, the nominate subspecies being found in the southern region and the other subspecies being found in the northern region.
Birds across the southern states tend to stay there year-round, in contrast to their migratory counterparts in the north.
As a result, the American Bald Eagle may be observed in Florida at any time of the year.
It is possible for them to congregate in huge numbers throughout the winter.
These unique raptors may be found in close proximity to vast amounts of water in a variety of habitats, including rivers, marshes, swamps, lakes, and even coastal areas.
If you are anticipating hearing the stirring cry that has gained widespread attention in the media, you may want to adjust your expectations so that you are not disappointed.
The cry of the red-tailed hawk is very certainly the one that has been immortalized in popular culture.
The real calls of the bald eagle may be described as a faint whistling sound, a squeaky hissing sound, or quiet chirping notes.
Eagles with white heads and tails, sometimes known as bald eagles, typically build their nests on the branches of very huge and very tall trees.
The nest is enormous in comparison to other ones.
The record for the biggest nest ever found was set in Florida when a structure measuring 10.5 feet broad and 25 feet deep was found.
Nests are made of twigs and branches and are filled with grass, plumage, and other forms of plant and animal life that are soft.
The American Bald Eagle is an opportunistic predator that consumes a diet that is mostly composed of fish.
They are frequently seen diving for the prey that is located across the water and seizing them using their paws as they descend.
Ducks, gulls, and geese are among the species of waterfowl that bald eagles hunt for food.
In addition to this, they are known to consume reptiles, crabs, amphibians, carrion, and also small mammals.
Turtles, as well as other reptiles, make up a large portion of the food of residents and visitors in Florida.
The number of bald eagles in the United States has increased significantly since it was pushed to the verge of extinction there.
2. Golden Eagle
Even though the bald eagle is among the most frequent species of an eagle across North America, the golden eagle has a range that encompasses the whole of the northern hemisphere, making it the most widely dispersed species of eagle in the world.
Additionally, it is the biggest eagle that can be found across North America.
It is a genuine eagle and gets its name from the golden-brown coloring that may be seen on the head and neck of the bird.
The remaining feathers are mostly a dark brown color, with some grey and the feathering on the legs being a lighter shade.
The feet of golden eagles are yellow, their eyes are yellowish-brown, and their bills are black with a yellow-greenish color.
There are a total of six subspecies, but the one that is native to North America is called Aquila chrysaetos Canadensis, and it can be spotted anywhere on the continent.
Sedentary birds, like golden eagles, are common. On the other hand, there are populations in the north that go south for the winter.
This species prefers settings that provide a significant amount of open area on which to hunt.
Due to the fact that they are more frequent in hilly regions, golden eagles are difficult to see in Florida.
The winter months along the shore or in marshy areas like Everglades National Park provide the greatest opportunity to see one of these elusive creatures.
If you are fortunate enough to see them during springtime, you may get a glimpse of the exquisite courting rituals that they perform.
They are not extremely noisy raptors, but they might let off a high-pitched whistle every once in a while, and this occurs most often during the mating season.
Cliffs, crags, or ledges are the common nesting locations for golden eagles. Within the same nesting site, a couple may establish many eyries.
The enormous nest consists of branches, wood, and grasses that have been woven together to form the lining.
Golden eagles, who are famous for their exceptional hunting skills, often hunt in teams to bring down their prey in a manner that is both remarkable and exciting to see.
These nimble raptors seek food such as rabbits, hares, and squirrels to satisfy their appetites for small animals.
In addition to that, they consume reptiles, carrion, and birds of a size range between tiny and medium.
Golden eagles do not perform well in areas where there is a significant human activity; as a result, the species has become extinct in a significant portion of the territory that it once inhabited.
However, on a worldwide scale, population estimates are regarded to be steady.
3. White-Tailed Eagle
The white-tailed eagle is a huge sea eagle that gets its name from the whitetail that it has. It is also called the ern.
The remainder of the feathers is brown and buff in color.
It has yellow eyes, yellow feet, and a yellow beak.
It has a mating pair with the bald eagle, with whom it shares a close genetic relationship.
In the United States, white-tailed eagles are very difficult to find.
They do their breeding across Asia and Europe, although the groups that live the farthest north migrate south for the winter.
There have been reports of stray birds in Hawaii and Alaska on occasion.
On the other hand, there is a persistent urban legend that this species has sometimes been seen in other regions of the nation, including Florida.
During the breeding season, which occurs between March and April, the greatest time to look for a white eagle is on the cliffs that are located along the shore.
During this time of year, white-tailed eagles are known to be very noisy, and pairs will often cry to one another in unison.
The male has a more audible call than the female does.
It is possible to transcribe the contact call as a succession of grii grii grii notes.
Eagles with whitetails and bald eagles are often found in the same kinds of environments.
They are most likely to be discovered in close proximity to huge, open bodies of water that are surrounded by high points in the form of towering cliffs, trees, and crags.
Wetlands, lakes, and rivers are all different kinds of habitats.
During the winter months, they may often be seen in coastal settings such as estuaries and mangroves.
If you had the good fortune to see this eagle visiting Florida, it would most likely be in a setting that is similar to the one described here.
Eagles with white tails lay their eggs in the cavities of huge trees.
The enormous nests are constructed out of twigs and sticks, and they are lined with a variety of different types of soft materials, including plant fibers, grasses, fur, seaweed, and moss.
This opportunistic predator consumes birds, fish, and to a lesser degree, mammals as part of its diverse and extensive diet that changes with the seasons.
Scavenging is another option for them, particularly in the colder months.
The territory of the white-tailed eagle is becoming more fragmented as a result of human activity, despite the fact that they have a large range.
Their distribution used to be considerably broader, but several human impacts led to the extinction of some populations in certain areas.
Throughout the course of its existence, the main dangers to the species have been overfishing, the degradation of habitat, indiscriminate hunting, and accidental poisoning by pesticides and some other hazardous agricultural chemicals.
Thankfully, because of protection legislation, habitat reclamation work, and reintroduction campaigns, many populations have returned, bringing the worldwide population up to approximately 20,000 to 50,000 individuals.
Reintroduction activities have also been successful in bringing back extinct species.
4. Steller’s Sea Eagle
The Stellar’s sea eagle is another species that is difficult to see in Florida.
It was given this name in honor of the German scientist George Wilhelm Stellar, and it has the distinction of being the biggest sea eagle and among the largest raptors, with an average weight of several pounds.
The Stellar’s eagle is a stocky raptor that has a unique, pied pattern on its feathers.
The majority of its feathers are a dark brown color, however, there is some white plumage on the wings, thighs, and tail.
It has yellow feet, yellow eyes, and a very big yellow beak, all of which are yellow.
This species was once found in northern Asia, but it now spends the winters further south than its breeding area.
In North America, it is possible to get a glimpse of certain migratory birds, although this is a very uncommon occurrence.
They nest over rocky outcrops or on top of huge trees, and they like to dwell in wooded environments that are close to bodies of water.
They construct the cumbersome nest out of sticks, and they frequently construct many nests.
In some regions, you may also find them living in coastal habitats and wetlands, particularly during the wintertime.
The Steller’s sea-eagle has a low-pitched “raa-raa-rauu-rauu” that it uses as its barking cry.
During the courting process, they are also known to emit loud noises similar to those of gulls.
Fish make up the majority of Stellar’s Sea Eagle’s diet, although they will also consume aquatic birds, small animals, crabs, and mollusks if given the opportunity.
Their number has dropped to a meager 5,000 birds as a direct result of the degradation of their natural habitat, pollution, excessive fishing, and indiscriminate persecution.
They might well be impacted by climate change on a global scale, which might result in floods and have an effect on breeding grounds.
The Stellar’s sea eagle is a protected species because the IUCN considers it to be in fragile conservation status.
Even if you spend the whole year looking for eagles in Florida, the chances are that you will only see Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles.
This is not to argue that it is impossible to discover White-tailed Eagles or Steller’s Sea Eagles in the state.
Even though it does not occur often, these two animal species are not indigenous to the region.
If you are fortunate enough to see one of these uncommon birds, it will most likely be a random occurrence; in most cases, it will be a young bird that has traveled far outside of its typical habitat.
However, there have been documented sightings of all four of these eagle species across Florida, making it among the few states that have the potential to be home to all four of the eagle species that are native to the United States.
Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin