Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
Photo Copyright Lynn Chamberlain

Despite the continuing recovery of populations in recent decades, fewer than ten nesting pairs of bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus were known in Utah in 2005.

Throughout the breeding range of this species, which includes Alaska, Canada, the coastal United States, and portions of the northern United States, nests are almost always in tall trees and commonly near bodies of water where fish and waterfowl prey are available. Nests are constructed of sticks and are very large, typically five or six feet, but up to twelve feet, in diameter. A deep cup is lined with grasses, pine needles, and other relatively fine plant material. Usually two eggs are laid, but occasionally one or three eggs are laid. Incubation duties are shared by the parents, and eggs hatch after about five weeks. In many cases, the second young to hatch dies before reaching the fledgling stage. Young first fly after ten to twelve weeks, but may remain around the nest for several weeks after fledging. Generally these birds do not breed until they are five or six years old. Even then, they may not nest every year. During non-breeding periods, especially during winter, bald eagles are relatively social and roost communally in sheltered stands of trees. Wintering areas are commonly associated with open water, though other habitats may be used if food resources, such as rabbit or deer carrion, are readily available. In general, bald eagles avoid areas with nearby human activity and development.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.