D E C banner
D E C banner

Disclaimer

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Watchable Wildlife: Bald eagle

Did you know:

A mature bald eagle walking along the shore of an icy waterbody
Bald eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Photo: Lou Buscher
  • In 1976 there was only one pair of bald eagles nesting in New York. Conservation efforts have increased that number to 173 pairs in 2009.
  • Bald eagles mate for life - which can be over 30 years.
  • Nests are reused and added to each year, growing to over six feet across, eight feet deep and weighing hundreds of pounds
  • An eagle's 2-inch-long talons can exert 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch.
Watchable wildlife binoculars icon

What to watch for:

Size:

30 inches tall with a wingspan of six to seven feet.

Appearance:

Adults have a brown body, white head and tail and bright yellow bill and feet.
Females and males look the same except the female is one-third larger and heavier, typical of birds of prey.
Immature eagles are mostly chocolate brown and lack the white head and tail.

Other signs to watch for:

A young bald eagle flying in the snow
An immature bald eagle
Photo: Lou Buscher

Eagles hold their wings straight out from their bodies when gliding. The feathers at the tips of the wings are widely separated. The turkey vulture, another large bird of prey, glides with its wings in a V-shape.

Where to watch:

Scan the tree-tops for eagles perched there or watch the sky. Eagles like heavily wooded areas near water with tall trees for nesting and perching. They eat a lot of fish so check ice flows or river islands for eagles enjoying a meal. In the winter, look for areas of open water often found near power plant discharges or where tributaries enter a river.

When to watch:

Winter is the best time to watch. Wintering eagles arrive in December with concentrations peaking in January and February. Eagles are most active between 7am to 9am and 4 pm to 5 pm.

The best places to see bald eagles:

The corner of a bald eagle nest high in the trees overlooking a river
The edge of a bald eagle nest high in the
treetops by the upper Delaware River.
Photo: Peter Nye

Along the Hudson River:
Margaret Lewis Norrie Point State Park
Constitution Island from North Dock, West Point
Route 6/202 overlook above Iona Island State Park
Riverfront Park, Peekskill
Charles Point/China Pier, Peekskill
Verplanck waterfront
George's Island Park parking area, Montrose
The Upper Delaware River watershed:
Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area
Mongaup Reservoir
Rio Reservoir
Upper reaches of the St. Lawrence River:
Wellesley Island State Park (early winter)
Brockville Narrows
Kingston, Ontario, and Cape Vincent, New York on the south;
Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York to the north.

More information about bald eagles:

Viewing bald eagles in New York State
DEC Bald Eagle Program
Bald Eagle Fact Sheet
Bald Eagle Restoration in New York
The Eagle Institute (This link leaves the DEC web site)

Return to the Watchable Wildlife main page