BALD EAGLES — HOW TO TELL WHICH ARE ADULTS?

Someone asked how to tell parent Bald Eagles from their offspring, now that the juveniles have grown so big.

Bald Eagles are very large, dark birds and are usually seen soaring or perched.  The adults’ most obvious field markings are the pure white heads and tails.   That’s an adult on the left below and a juvenile flapping its wings on the nest.  It’s usually difficult to determine which parent is Mom and which is Dad unless they are both perched together.  Moms are  usually larger than Dads.   Also, one or both parents may have special markings or a visible leg band number.

Screenshot: White Rock, BC Bald Eagle Adult & Juvenile

In this screen shot of about 6:15 P.M. PST June 19, the other juvenile was down for a nap.   The background sound was a little scary — a motorcycle gunning close to the tree, rifle shots and human juveniles shouting and laughing.  However the parent bird seemed undisturbed, and after this wide-winged juvenile took a good stretch and maybe a yawn, it snuggled down besides its sibling for a nap.  I watched it on the close up screen and believe they are OK.  By-the-way if you go to the website, you’ll find both a close up and a wide angle of the nestlings.  Here’s the link: http://www.hancockwildlife.org/index.php?topic=White-Rock-Eagle1#CloseUp

Confession time:  although I tried to be brave and not  search for the website’s panic button, well…  When young eagles nap, they lie flat on their tummies with feet protruding behind them, and if the angle isn’t quite right so I can see them breathing…  Well they look totally inert.  And after the gun shots…

I determinedly took myself to the garden to pick strawberries for tomorrow’s breakfast, and when I returned, one baby was walking around, and the other, stumbling groggily (like I do of a morning).  Then it started striding vigorously and flapping and flapping and FLAPPING those great wings, while the sibling watched warily.   Whew!

White Rock, BC Bald Eagle Juvies Awake Again

Back to the original question.  I do regress!  According to the field guides, the eagles remain dark brown with some lighter mottling until the 4th year.   When the fourth year arrives, so do white head and tail feathers, along with thoughts of nest-building.  A new adult is on the scene.

🙂 Smiles

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