The Bald Eagle is an opportunistic feeder which consists mainly on fish, which it swoops down and snatches from the water with its talons. It builds the largest nest of any North American bird and the largest tree nests ever recorded for any animal species, up to 4 meters (13 ft) deep, 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) wide, and one metric ton (1.1 tons) in weight.
Bald Eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of "white headed". The adult is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The sexes are identical in plumage, but females are larger than males. The beak is large and hooked.
The Bald Eagle's natural range covers most of North America, including most of Canada, all of the continental United States, and into northern Mexico. It is the only sea eagle endemic to North America. Occupying varied habitats from the bayous of Louisiana to the Sonoran Desert and the eastern deciduous forests of Quebec, to New England, and heavy populations along the Pacific Northwest States of the USA and Provinces of Canada.
The northern birds are migratory, while southern birds are resident, remaining on their breeding territory all year. At minimum population, in the 1950s, it was largely restricted to Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, northern and eastern Canada, and Florida. Today, they are much more common (almost attaining their peak numbers pre-colonization in North America), and nest in every continental state and province in the United States and Canada.
Northern Bald Eagles will also congregate in certain locations in winter. From November until February, one to two thousand birds winter in Squamish, British Columbia, about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. Another 5,000 to 8,000 winter in the Harrison and Fraser River area of British Columbia. This area is between Chilliwack and Harrison Hot Springs. The birds primarily gather along the BC Rivers as they are attracted by the salmon spawning in these areas.
If you would like to photograph these fantastic birds of prey during one of the most active times in their annual cycle, contact us. We run annual photography workshops during the November to January time frame in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Click here to see details on our workshop page