Bald Eagles, By Albert J. Valentino, Iselin, New Jersey, USA

Bald Eagles

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Learn more about Haliaeetus leucocephalus from the Encyclopedia of Life

Encyclopedia of Life

Homer, Alaska, USA
By Albert J. Valentino
Iselin, New Jersey, USA

Albert J. Valentino

Once endangered, the Bald Eagle can now be found throughout North America. The raptor's habitat requirements are two-fold: tall trees to build nests and large bodies of water to hunt for fish, their preferred meal. Their diet may also include rabbits, rodents, squirrels, and carrion. Keen eyesight, 5 to 6 times sharper than a human's, allows them to spot a rabbit on the ground 2 miles away. Females, which can be up to 25 percent larger than males, may weigh nearly 17 pounds and have a wingspan of almost 8 feet. Their feathers are mottled brown in adolescence and turn to deep brownish-black with white head, neck, and tail when they reach adulthood.

“My goal on a trip to Alaska was to spend a full week photographing Bald Eagles. What stood out to me about this composition was that the eagles resemble Olympic winners waiting for someone to hang the appropriate medals around their necks. The winner in the middle appears to be literally taking the younger eagle 'under his wing' as he proudly holds up his head and puffs out his chest. It was a great moment that I was able to quickly compose and capture.” —AJV

Nikon D200; 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 lens at 95mm; 1/320 sec at ƒ/8, ISO 800; hand-held.