This well-known bird of prey, symbolic of the USA, is also a symbol of success. It is a species at risk that is coming back from near extinction. There were less than 10 breeding pairs in Ontario in 1970 and today the population is estimated at 1400 pairs.
- Adults are distinctive with their white head, neck and tail contrasting with their brown bodies. The “bald” description is likely taken from the word piebald, meaning spotty or patchy.
- Wingspan of up to 2 m.
- Juveniles do not develop white adult plumage until 4 years of age.
- Can live for 22 years.
- Feed on live or dead fish, aquatic birds, along with smaller mammals, amphibians and reptiles.
- Deer carcasses are a major source of food in Ontario’s winter.
- Keen vision allows them to see prey on the ground or in the water while in flight.
- Strong beaks and sharp talons grasp and carry away their food. They will steal prey of other birds especially Ospreys.
Habits and Reproduction
- Sexual maturity is reached at 4-6 years of age.
- Nests are huge, constructed with sticks usually near the top of a tree and close to water.
- 1-3 eggs are laid and approximately half will survive the first year.
- They need large areas of continuous forest cover with large trees for nesting near lakes and rivers.
- Population hit hard by pesticide use post WWII but are now rebounding.
- Threats that continue include heavy metal contaminants, illegal shooting, accidental trapping and collisions with electrical lines
- Please report any sightings of Bald Eagle nests to Parry Sound Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
- Do not use pesticides particularly near water.