Immature Bald Eagle


Birds, in general, will look like their adult version by the end of their first year.

However, Bald Eagles take approximately five years to fully acquire their adult plumage.  Between birth and adult, they have their ‘dirty-look’ years.

Last week I clicked off several shots of this immature Bald Eagle cruising across the sky.  This eagle is either a 1.5 or 2.5 year old.  During this year-span, their mottled-look can be quite different from eagle to eagle.  Our Chesapeake Bay resident eagles hatch late February through March.


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Immature Bald Eagle


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Immature Bald Eagle


(Photos taken in Rock Hall, Maryland)


35 thoughts on “Immature Bald Eagle

  1. Great captures Donna, the immatures all seem to have that mottled earthy appearance as juveniles for their protection. I guess it is an expression of us not take on our full colour or purpose till maturity.

  2. Even the Bald Eagles being juveniles, show the majestic image that will grow to be such a precious gorgeous adult! Nice shots, Donna. 🙂

    • I so very much agree, HJ! Being home now, I’m back to seeing them quite often flying in the sky, and I still get excited when seeing one. Whoever is around me is going to know about it too because I will tell them to look, there’s an eagle! 😁

  3. Quality photography representing hours of observation and probably dozens if not more photos
    just for that ‘perfect’ one that suits your discussion. love them all Donna!

  4. Wonderful photos! Love your flight shots! Great info too! Yes, they do have a “dirty-look.” Reminds of the story of the little ugly duckling. They could easily be mistaken for some other type of bird. Me for sure.

    • Thank you, Simon! Nice connection with the ugly duckling story. For sure, many think a first-second year eagle up in the sky is a vulture because they are so dark. And then the more white, some confuse with Osprey. At one time, I was that person! 😉 We’re lucky to have some many eagles around the Chesapeake Bay year round, I’ve gotten accustomed to easy IDing. And I still get excited each time!

  5. All the more to confuse us… not only juvenile plumage, but then there’s the breeding, not to mention molting. No wonder I get easily confused! 🙄

    • I know, really. 😉 I get more confused with female birds for the most part, so many look so much alike, you don’t know what specie to start with. We love our birds though! 😍

      • I may be ready to give up on trying to sort them all out. Especially when you get down to all that nitty gritty! It’s why I have a resident birder. 🦅 😉 But at least I recognize an adult bald eagle…. I still love ’em even if I can’t tell a he from a she! Good grief! today it was trying to figure out what ‘that’ bird was… eventually discovering we sighted our first American Finch. Who knew? The patterns on the feathers are gorgeous. I don’t think I’m up for keeping a list of them all. 😒 At least there’s some pictures…

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