Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
NH Conservation Status: Threatened
Federal Status: Not listed
Bald eagles are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.
Description: 3' tall with a 6-8' wing span. Females weigh up to 14 lbs; males weigh 7-10 lbs. Immature bald eagles are mottled light brown, tan, and white until age 3 or 4. They have brown eyes, a black beak, and yellow feet. Adult bald eagles have a distinctive white head and white tail feathers, and a dark brown body and wings. Their eyes are pale yellow and the powerful beak and unfeathered feet are bright yellow.
Commonly Confused Species: Immature bald eagles can be confused with golden eagles or osprey.
Habitat: Bald eagles breed in forested areas near bodies of water and winter near open water (i.e. coastal areas, rivers, and lakes with open water).
Life History: Bald eagles can live up to 30 years old and can begin breeding between 4-6 years of age. They build large nests in tall trees near the water’s edge. Females lay 1-3 eggs in the spring. Both the male and female incubate the eggs and young hatch after five weeks. Bald eagles often retain the same mate for many years and reuse the same nest from year to year. Bald eagles primarily eat fish, but will also supplement their diet with a wide variety of small animals and with carrion.
For more information:
- Bald Eagle Project from the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program
- Bald Eagle Profile from the NH Wildlife Action Plan
- Bald eagle information from NH Audubon