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Watchable Wildlife: Bald Eagle

Silver Lake, Krieger Park

Quick Facts

Bald eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Photo: Lou Buscher

  • In 1976 there was only one pair of bald eagles nesting in New York. Conservation efforts have increased that number to 389 territories in 2015.

  • Bald eagles mate for life - which can be over 30 years.

  • Nests are reused and added to each year, growing to over six feet across, eight feet deep, and weighing hundreds of pounds.

  • An eagle's 2-inch-long talons can exert 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch.


What to Watch for


30 inches tall with a wingspan of six to seven feet.


Adults have a brown body, white head and tail, and bright yellow bill and feet.
Females and males look the same, except the female is one-third larger and heavier, typical of birds of prey.
Immature eagles are mostly chocolate brown and lack the white head and tail.

Other Signs to Watch for

Eagles hold their wings straight out from their bodies when gliding. The feathers at the tips of the wings are widely separated. The turkey vulture, another large bird of prey, glides with its wings in a V-shape.

Where to Watch

Scan the tree-tops for eagles perched there or watch the sky. Eagles like heavily wooded areas near water with tall trees for nesting and perching. They eat a lot of fish so check ice flows or river islands for eagles enjoying a meal. In the winter, look for areas of open water often found near power plant discharges or where tributaries enter a river.

When to Watch

Winter is the best time to watch. Wintering eagles arrive in December with concentrations peaking in January and February. Eagles are most active between 7am to 9am and 4 pm to 5 pm.

More Information about Bald Eagles

Viewing bald eagles in New York State
National Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey

Bald Eagle Fact Sheet
Bald Eagle Restoration in New York
The Eagle Institute 

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