Many of my photographer friends and I have enjoyed photographing Bald Eagles this winter. I’d like to share a few facts I’ve learned about these majestic birds in a Q & A format.
Q. When do Bald Eagles get their white heads?
A. Bald Eagles do not get their white feathers (head and tail) until they are 4 to 5 years old.
Q. How many eggs do eagles lay each year?
A. Usually 1 to 3, but according to some stats only about 50% will live to fledgling.
Q. How long do eagles live?
A. Eagles have been known to live up to 20 years in the wild and as long as 50 years in captivity.
Q. Why are Bald Eagles called Bald when they obviously have white feathers on their heads and are not bald.
A: The name actually comes from an old English word which meant “white headed” rather than hairless.
Q. How can you tell a female eagle from a male?
A. The easiest way to tell the difference is by size. The female eagle is about 30% larger than the male.
Q. What if you don’t see a nesting pair together?
A. There are a few other more subtle ways to tell the difference:
- The feathers on the male eagle’s head are usually very bright white, while the female’s head may some darker feathers mixed in.
- Female eagles also have gray feathers around their eyes that resembles gray eye shadow. Male eagles have a black liner around their eyes.
- Females also have a very distinguished brow, with eyes inset deeper than males.
- Males have brighter orange beaks than the females.
Also see my articles for DPS at http://digital-photography-school.com/author/brucewunderlich/