Bald eagles are found only on the North American continent. However, in Alaska, they are the most abundant than anywhere else. There is estimated to be about 30,000 bald eagles in Alaska.
Bald eagles are known by their white feathered heads. These bird acquire this hallmark feature once the bird reaches adult maturity. The white feathers that are found on the head and tail feathers don’t develop until after approximately five years. This eagle is the largest resident bird of prey in Alaska. Their wingspan reaches up to 7.5 feet (2.3 m) and weigh between 8 and 14 pounds (3.6 – 6.4 kg). (AlaskaGov)
The females are typically larger than the males in this species. When these birds are immature they are a mixture of white and brown feather with no white head. Their beak also changes into adulthood from black to yellow. They have yellow legs to match and extremely powerful talons.
Range and Habitat
With the lush and abundant ecosystems Alaska has to offer, bald eagle thrive off the natural resources. From lakes, to coastlines, and along the riverbanks, bald eagles can be found hunting for fish to eat. Most bald eagles stay year-round in Alaska but some do leave to areas like parts of Canada and Mexico during the colder months. The year-round residents can typically be found near the southern coast during the winter time.
During the fall and spring you can find hoards of them along the spawning areas of salmon. The highest density of bald eagles in Alaska can be found on the islands of Southeast Alaska. They prefer to nest in the old growth forests that line the oceans and rivers. You can find eagles nesting in tall cottonwood trees near water as well.
Bald eagles primarily eat fish but are also known to eat small birds, small mammals, and a variety of aquatic animals. These birds typically perch high above water sources to spot their prey from far away. Once this bird locks in on its prey it swoops in with powerful talons and snatches their newly claimed food. This bird of prey is known to be quite sneaky as it has been observed stealing food from other hunting birds.
These birds are known for their showcase during courtship. When mating, these eagles will lock talons at a high altitude and plummet to the ground until they break apart at the very last moment. When creating nests for their fledglings these birds do not skimp. Collecting and piling sticks, twigs, and other forged items from the forest, a bald eagle’s nest can be up to six feet wide and hundreds of pounds in weight! Bald eagle pairs mate for life and return to the same nest for generations.
Bald eagles typically lay two eggs several days apart. After about 35 days of incubation, a brutal dual between the newly hatched chicks begins. Whichever one survives goes on to fly from the nest after about 75 days.