Juvenile Bald Eagle

A recent quick cruise through Bombay Hook NWR along their wildlife drive provided a few birding opportunities, including a juvenile Bald Eagle in flight.

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We are most familiar with the classic look of the Bald Eagle; the white head & tail, dark brown body & wings, and bright yellow beak & feet.  This adult plumage is attained in five years after birth.

But before they attain their “classic look”, Bald Eagles are born dark brown with black beaks and then go through phases the next three years, becoming more mottled with white each year, while the beak begins to attain a yellow hue down its length.  Their fourth year begins the final phase of of the head and tail attaining more white while the body and wings loose the white and go back to brown.

This is a 3rd year Bald Eagle.

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I watched this Bald Eagle as he eyed the ducks in Shearness Pool below.  Frantic mayhem simultaneously occurred as those ducks eyed him as well and quickly took flight away from his direction.

He didn’t seem to care to chase them.  But I bet he snickered.

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And off he flew, to the tree line where he landed.

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It is always a great day to see and photograph a Bald Eagle!


35 thoughts on “Juvenile Bald Eagle

  1. Amazing clear shots Donna, the immature raptors seem to all have this brown mottled plumage which changes yearly till they mature. It is interesting that these large birds take 3 to 4 years to mature and need to be taught how to fly and hunt, when we compare them to the small passerines. Have a wonderful New Year Donna and many more birding adventures!

  2. You made me laugh…”I bet he snickered” — ha ha, made you fly! I often wonder if some of the bird behaviors we see are intentional pokes or what the birds are thinking.

  3. Beautiful, Donna! We have had some immature bald eagles in our cove on Kent Island over the past two years, and they are so special, but hard to get good photos. You were definitely in the right place at the right time.

  4. Lovely images of this adolescent! There’s just one thing I miss since moving south and that’s the bald eagle’s nest I used to watch over back in the old neighborhood! As always there’s the little trade offs no matter what you do! 😏 Wishing you and yours all the best for the coming year! 🕊

    • Thanks Gunta! Maybe you’ll come across another nest in your new region. Oh, I’m sure during your RV traveling trips! Have a wonderful New Year, including rolling those wheels!

  5. Great photos, Donna! We had perhaps a dozen individual eagles on our Christmas Count, of varying ages. Almost as challenging as aging gulls, which I regularly give up on any age between first year and adult. 🙂

      • Only once a year do I deal with gulls. It’s like shorebirds. Then I forget it all and have to learn it again. What is wonderful, though, is the comeback for the Bald Eagles. They’re almost common now, anywhere. 🙂

  6. Very nice! We ran into a woman who was birding down by our river walk. She was looking for the ‘leucistic’ (partially albino) bald eagle that had been spotted in the area. We had never heard of that so I looked it up. It is a rare genetic condition where the bird lacks pigment in the feathers.

    • Thanks Denise! I’ve read about leucistic, albino, and piebald in wildlife in the past. Just looked at images of a leucistic bald eagle. How interesting, thank you for sharing!

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