Bald eagle

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)




Facts about this animal

Adults have a snowy white head and neck. The rest of the body is dark brown, nearly all the feathers are edged in pale olivegrey. The tail is also snowy white. The iris, legs, feet and bill are bright yellow. The sexes are alike, but females are larger than males. Body length: 71-96 cm, weight is 3-6.3 kg. Wingspan is 168-244 cm.

Juveniles are dark brown also on head and neck, the body is less black than in adults and in some birds blotched white or buffy. The tail is dark brown, mottled with buff.

Did you know?
that, during the middle of the 20th century, the already reduced bald eagle populations were further hit by the widespread use of DDT for mosquito control? The pesticide caused female eagles to lay eggs with abnormally thin shells, which dramatically reduced their reproduction. In 1972 DDT was banned.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Name (English) Bald eagle
Name (French) Pygargue à tête blanche
Name (German) Weisskopfseeadler
Name (Spanish) Pigargo americano
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Appendix II (as Accipitridae spp.)



Photo Copyright by
Jörg Hempel



Range North America continent south to southern Florida and the coast of Baja California, Mexico. It is found on Bering Islands, the Aleutian Islands and the islands off the coast of British Columbian but not on the Canadian arctic islands of Greenland. In eastern Canada north to Ungava and Newfoundland.
Habitat Generally prefers areas fringing water over considerable distance, e.g. coasts, estuaries, riparian habitats and lakes. From tundra (Aleutian Is) and conifer forests, to mangrove and cypress swamps (Florida), and even deserts brush steppe and deserts far from water.
Wild population Not globally threatened. Northern populations not threatened and locally abundant, e.g. in coastal Alaska and British Columbia; but in lower Canada and most of contiguous 48 USA states, numbers reduced, and species often considered either listed as threatened or endangered. Populations in continental USA declined from an estimated 250,000 to 1,000 from the late 1700s to the 1960s, owing to intense hunting, unintentional poisonings (notably use of DDT and lead shot), and habitat destruction. Over the last 30 years, the US population has effectively doubled every seven to eight years. The total population was estimated 70,000 Bald eagles in 1991, about half of them lived in Alaska.
Zoo population 365 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Bald eagle


How this animal should be transported

Untrained birds travel better in completely dark boxes, with a carpeted floor and roof, with an upwards sliding door at one end and no perch. As a general rule, trained birds are easier to manage in boxes with a carpeted perch at the right height to give plenty of head and tail room, and with a hinged side opening door.

For air transport, Container Note 20 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Joby Joseph

Why do zoos keep this animal

Zoos keep bald eagles primarily for educational reasons, because this species is the national bird of the United States of America, which appears on most of the country’s official seals, because it is a good example for the species which were severely affected by the use of the pesticide DDT and have recovered since the use of organochlorines in agriculture was banned, and because it is a sacred bird in the cultures of some native American peoples.

Bald eagles are also presented in flight shows.

Zoos may keep bald eagles also for animal welfare reasons as they may come into the position of caring for injured and other non-releasable birds.