4 Types of Eagles in North America

The landscape of the United States ranges from searing, arid desert plains to icy snowcapped alpine summits. Equally different flora and animal communities result from diverse topographies and climatic circumstances.

While each proud state has a beloved animal that it uses to symbolize itself, the magnificent bald eagle holds sway as a national emblem.

50 distinct states make up the United States of America. Every state in the country has unique terrain and climate. All of the states may have different species of eagles.

Eagles are huge, robust predatory birds with powerful talons and massive beaks. They have excellent eyesight, roughly three times that of a human, just as other raptors.

They have been regarded as symbols of battle and power because of their strength and magnificent look, and they frequently feature in mythology and folklore.

Over 60 different species of eagles may be found all over the world, but in case you want to learn about different species of eagles in North America, then this guide is for you.

ImageName
Golden EagleGolden Eagle
Bald EagleBald Eagle
White-Tailed EagleWhite-Tailed Eagle
Steller's Sea EagleSteller's Sea Eagle

Types of Eagles in North America

1. Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

Golden eagles are very beautiful raptors. They have long, fan-like tails and wide wings. They have dark brown overall plumage with golden accents on the neck and rear of the head.

In traditional cultures, these eagles served as a significant emblem of daring and power. In the western part of the United States, where they may be seen all year round, golden eagles are rather common.

Food

They frequently sit high or fly when hunting, seeking small animals. Instead of relying on scavenging or stealing from other birds, Golden Eagles behave more like predators and engage in more active hunting for prey.

They are capable of bringing down considerably larger prey, such as juvenile pronghorns and deer, despite the fact that the majority of their food is smaller than that of ground squirrels, jackrabbits, and prairie dogs.

However, because they are opportunistic, these eagles will not turn down fish, reptiles, or even other birds as food.

Habitat

These raptors favor open terrain or at least partially open environments, like many other birds of prey. Look for them near mountains, cliffs, and hills.

However, they have evolved to make use of a wide variety of environments, including tundras, deserts, and many types of woods and forests, particularly those that are close to water.

Only very infrequently during the winter are they normally found in the eastern part of America. They can be found farther north during the mating season in Alaska and northwest Canada.

2. Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

You are undoubtedly familiar with the Bald Eagle, the most recognizable eagle in North America if you reside in the United States. Although these birds are known as “bald” eagles, their heads do not truly lack feathers.

However, in contrast to the rest of their dark chocolate-coated bodies, their heads are covered in striking white plumage. It was a symbol in indigenous peoples’ culture and story-telling long before it became the nation’s national emblem in 1782.

The bills and talons of the remaining Bald Eagles are both brightly colored. With huge bodies, a long, curved beak, and enormous, wide wings, they are also among the biggest birds in North America.

Range

The southeast and northwest coastlines of the United States, the upper part of New England, and tiny central regions of the continent are the only places in North America where Bald Eagles may be found.

The behavior of this bird is much different from its iconic and majestic appearance. Since fish makes up the majority of their food, lakes, rivers, marshes, and coastlines are the greatest sites to seek for these eagles.

Habitat

They are frequently seen sitting on a limb or swooping slowly and powerfully just over the trees. These raptors are renowned for preferring to forage for food from other animals or scavenge carrion over going on the hunt.

They frequently feed on ospreys and utilize their frightening size to pursue smaller birds for food. A Bald Eagle will pursue an osprey while it is in flight, fighting it until it drops its catch or just snatching it out of the osprey’s talons.

Benjamin Franklin preferred Wild Turkey as the national symbol rather than the Bald Eagle because of their violent character. However, they may be seen all around the nation during the chilly winter months.

They may be found all throughout Canada and live further north during the mating season.

3. White-Tailed Eagle

White-Tailed Eagle

The White-tailed Eagle has a wedge-shaped tail made of snow-white feathers and dark brown plumage throughout, unlike the Bald Eagle, which has dazzling white feathers covering its head and a chocolate-colored body.

Despite being largely a European and Asian bird, the White-tailed Eagle has made sporadic visits to North America. They have long, yellow bills, and their heads may seem paler than the rest of their bodies.

Habitat

They are frequently seen close to coasts and other bodies of water, which is why they are sometimes known as “sea eagles” due to their predilection for fish.

When they are fishing, they fly close to the water and occasionally pause to hover before grabbing a fish off the surface.

Food

This Eagle is not a fussy eater. The majority of their diet consists of fish, although they will also consume carrion, other birds, and small animals like hares and rats.

They occasionally steal food from other birds and animals, such as otters, just like Bald Eagles do.

4. Steller’s Sea Eagle

Steller's Sea Eagle

Steller’s Sea Eagles are not native to North America like the White-tailed Eagle, but they have sometimes been spotted there. These eagles hunt fish, which is their primary prey, in vast stretches of open water.

Food

They primarily consume fish, and their nests are frequently located nearby salmon spawning grounds. They either stand in shallow water and catch fish as they pass by, or they perch and wait for food before swooping down to share it with their talons.

The Steller’s Sea Eagle will take food from other animals and birds, much like other eagles do. They are thought to breed in eastern Russia near the Bering Sea beaches, but they move to Japan during the winter, where they are highly adored.

Appearance

Similar to White-tailed Eagles, they have dark brown bodies and white tails, but they also have white spots on their stomachs and shoulders.

White-tailed Eagles and young eagles are sometimes mistaken for one another, but Steller’s Sea Eagles have a bigger beak, wedge-shaped tails, and distinctive wings that are thin at the tip and close to the body and bulge in the center. Bald Eagles are outweighed by Steller’s Sea Eagles in size. They are the biggest sea eagles there are.

Which Would Be America’s Largest Eagle?

The eagle is a large bird. They soar high to their nests and have large enough claws to grip food like young goats or monkeys. Additionally, eagles have broad wings that enable them to soar far in the air.

Even though eagles are all enormous, there are some variances in size between the two different species. Let’s determine which of these powerful native American bird species is the largest.

The size and weight of golden eagles and bald eagles are comparable. They both weigh between 6.5-15 lb (3-7 kg) and have wings that are typically 6 to 7.5 feet long (1.8-2.3 m).

As a result, choosing the largest eagle among the two local species is difficult. However, Steller’s sea eagles, which frequent Alaska’s shores, are among the world’s biggest eagle species, weighing up to 10.5 to 21 pounds (5 – 9.5 kg).

Given that their measurements are comparable to those of the Steller’s sea eagle, white-tailed eagles can likewise be categorized as hefty birds.

These two eagles are larger than the two native species of eagles since they both have enormous wingspans of 6.5 to 8 feet (2 to 2.5 meters).

Conclusion

This discussion explains the different species of Eagles in North America. We have talked about some of the most ferocious raptors that you will find in America.

For more details on eagles, you can see the FAQ.

FAQ

What distinguishes an eagle from other animals?

A bird of prey that is stronger than a buteo is generally referred to be an eagle. The body and flying patterns of an eagle may resemble those of a vulture, but it has a completely feathered head and powerful feet with enormous, bent talons. Eagles mostly eat live prey, which is another distinction between them and other birds of prey.

How old are bald eagles on average?

Some of the world’s biggest flying birds are eagles. Their lifetime is significantly increased in comparison to lesser birds, just like their size.

A bald eagle kept in captivity with proper care may potentially live to be at least 40 years old. In the wild, bald eagles can live for 20 to 25 years. Additionally, a golden eagle may live for up to 30 years.

Despite having a longer lifespan by nature, these birds are also intensely competitive, which leads to many of them passing away before they can completely develop into adults.

Golden or bald, which is larger?

The average height and wingspan of bald eagles are greater than those of golden eagles, although the average weight is not significantly different. Leg plumage is one method to tell a golden eagle from a young bald eagle apart.

Last Updated on August 17, 2022 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.