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Raptors

Characteristics of the Different Raptor Families

Hawk Families

Eagles
  • Large bodied raptors, mostly dark brown in color with long, broad wings, and fan-shaped tails.

  • Have large, strong feet and a powerful beak.

  • Often spotted soaring high and gliding.

  • Two species widespread throughout North America, the bald eagle and the golden eagle.

  • The bald eagle has been America’s national symbol since 1782; the bald eagle is unique to North America.

  • The average wingspan of an eagle can vary from six to seven feet.

  • The adult bald eagle appears very different from immature eagles, it has a distinctive white head and white tail and a bright yellow beak. These distinguishing bald eagle features do not start to appear until after the fourth year molt and may take 7-10 years to achieve full adult plummage

  • Bald eagles usually live near water (oceans, rivers, lakes), while golden eagles live in open, mountainous country.

  • Eagles nests are very large, measuring up to six feet wide and weighing 100 pounds; many nests are used repeatedly year to year.

  • Eagles may roost singly or in groups exceeding 100 birds.

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Bald Eagle - USFWS photo


Immature Golden Eagle - USGS - M. Kochert

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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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