Bald Eagle Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Bald Eagle

Scientific Name:

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Wild Status:

Least Concern


Near bodies of water


North America (Canada, USA, parts of Mexico)



Life Span:

20 years


4ft long head to tail, 6ft long wingspan

Cool Facts:

  • Bald Eagles are not actually bald. The name actually references the white color of their heads.
  • Native Americans have held Bald Eagles in high regard for centuries. Feathers are used in ceremonies as part of clothing and headdresses. Outside of religious and spiritual traditions, feathers are also given as gifts to individuals for great achievements.
  • While their prey of choice is fish, these eagles are known to hunt small critters such as squirrels and rabbits, and even other birds!
  • They are not only great hunters, but great thieves who swoop in and snatch up prey from other predators. Bad news for brown bears, who also love fish.
  • Bald Eagle pairs, which mate for life, will grab each other's talons and spin downwards towards the ground. Biologists believe this dangerous dance is a courtship ritual, an extreme version of humans dancing with each other to attract a lover.
  • When swooping to the ground, they can reach speeds of 100mph!


The Bald Eagle is found across North America in fairly large numbers, an estimated 70,000+. Although not as populous as they once were, these apex predators have a reputation going back centuries. Native Americans have long held them in high regard and continue to respect them to this day. These birds of prey swoop down to the ground from great heights, striking fear in unaware critters. Bald eagles' preferred food is both sea and freshwater fish, which draws them to make nests on top of tall trees near lakes and rivers. They are not often found near cities or suburban environments, but wilder areas of Washington, Alaska, and Oregon give humans a chance to witness these almost mythical creatures.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Accipitriformes Family: Accipitridae Genus: Haliaeetus Species: H. leucocephalus

Conservation & Helping:

A combination of hunting and poisoning once posed great risk to Bald Eagles. Pesticides harmed eggs and weakened their shells, making survival of newborns difficult. Adults were hunted to both protect animals that humans rely on (such as fish and livestock) and humans themselves, although these fears have been found to be unfounded. Additionally, destruction of habitat and pollution have also contributed to the decline of the bald eagle population.   Fortunately, efforts from the US government to ban dangerous pesticides and outlaw hunting have brought about a resurgence of bald eagles. Today, their numbers are not as large as before the arrival of settlers, but bald eagles are no longer considered endangered.

For Teachers and Educators


Keep Exploring Defenders!