Ladies and gentlemen, hold onto your hats and prepare for a surprise – the eagles have gone blonde!
That’s right, folks, these raptors known for their long talons and sharp beaks have traded in their dark locks for a shocking new look: the white head. And let us tell you, they’re causing quite a stir in the avian community.
But don’t worry, they didn’t bleach their feathers, they were born this way. So sit back, grab a birdseed snack, and join us as we dive into the wild world of eagles with white heads.
Eagles With White Heads
1. Bald Eagle
- Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Length: 28-40 in
- Wingspan: 70.8-90.5 in
- Weight: 6.6-13.9 lb
Bald eagles have been national birds of the United States since 1782 and aren’t going anywhere. They have brown bodies, white heads and tails, and yellow legs and beaks.
These majestic creatures may start off as almost completely brown little fledglings, but just wait until they hit the ripe old age of five, and BOOM – magnificent white heads!
And, as if they weren’t already impressive enough, these eagles build some of the biggest nests in North America – the largest one ever recorded was a whopping 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep!
They are hard to miss as they fly through the air with their 7.5-foot-wide wingspan and white heads held straight. You can find them soaring along the coast or hanging out near some water because, let’s be real, fish is life.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida has one of the densest concentrations of bald eagles in the US, with over 1,500 pairs found there. With a total population of over 316,700 birds in 2020 (per U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) that quadrupled since 2009, it’s clear that bald eagles are truly the kings of the skies.
Bald eagles are the only eagle species in North America with white heads.
2. African Fish Eagle
- Scientific Name: Haliaeetus vocifer
- Length: 25-29.5 in
- Wingspan: 78.7-94.5 in
- Weight: 4.4-7.9 lb
African fish eagles, also known as African sea eagles, are national birds of Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These majestic creatures can be found perched near rivers, lakes, streams, and marshes, keeping a keen eye out for their next meal – fish, birds, reptiles, and even carrion.
And let’s not forget their unique fish-catching talons similar to ospreys’ which allow them to grip onto slippery fish with ease.
With wingspans ranging from 6.6 ft to 7.9 ft and weighing in at a whopping 4.4 to 7.9 pounds, these eagles are not to be underestimated. We have to mention their looks: African fish eagles might resemble bald eagles but with brown bodies, white heads and chests, dark eyes, and hook-shaped yellow beaks with black tips, they are truly one of a kind.
With an estimated population of 300,000 birds, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists African fish eagles as species of Least Concern, showing just how strong and resilient these birds truly are.
3. Black-and-white Hawk-eagle
- Scientific Name: Spizaetus melanoleucus
- Length: 20-24 in
- Wingspan: 43-53 in
- Weight: 1.7 lb
These medium-sized birds of prey are a rare sight to behold, found in the lowland mixed forests and shrubland of Mexico, Central, and South America.
But don’t let their elusive nature fool you, black-and-white hawk-eagles are fierce raptors with a diet consisting of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. They soar high in the sky and dive down for the kill with folded wings, making for quite the spectacle.
And let’s talk about their looks: with their white heads, chests, and necks, black crowns, dark upperparts, and bright orange-yellow legs and feet, black-and-white hawk eagles are truly a fashion statement. Males are smaller than females.
They nest in the forest canopy, use sticks to build their nest, and lay a single egg, which the females incubate while the males bring them food – talk about teamwork! These eagles breed every 2 to 3 years.
Unfortunately, their population is unknown and considered to be declining due to habitat loss. Although the IUCN lists them as a species of Least Concern, we should all do our part to protect these majestic white-headed birds and their habitats.
4. White-bellied Sea eagle
- Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucogaster
- Length: 26-35 in
- Wingspan: 70-86.6 in
- Weight: 4-9.9 lb
These distinctive birds with white heads, breasts, under-wing coverts, and tails are also known as white-breasted sea eagles. White-bellied sea eagles are also dark gray above and can be seen along coastlines, estuaries, and inland waterways of Southeast Asia and Australia.
These magnificent raptors are true giants of the bird world. They measure 26-35 inches in length, weigh from 4 to almost 10 pounds, and have a wingspan from 5.8 to 7.2 feet – they are hard to miss! And let’s not forget that females are larger than males, by almost 20%.
With a diet consisting of fish, turtles, sea snakes, and also rabbits, bats, birds, and other animals, white-bellied sea eagles are not picky eaters. They are known to be aggressive and will also harass other birds and steal their food (including kites and ospreys) – cheeky aerial pirates.
White-bellied sea eagles are listed as species of Least Concern by the IUCN and have an estimated population of 10,000 to 100,000 individuals.
5. Flores Hawk-eagle
- Scientific Name: Nisaetus floris
- Length: 28-31 in
- Wingspan: n/a
- Weight: 4.4 lb
Elusive and rare, Flores hawk-eagles are the true hidden gems of the tropical rainforests of Indonesia. They are found only on the Lesser Sunda Islands and are often mistaken for immature rufous-bellied eagles.
These large raptors are a sight to behold, with bright white heads and underparts and brown upperparts. In flight, they might seem completely white except for dark tails with 6 bars and wing tips, making them a true tropical paradise bird.
Unfortunately, not much is known about them when it comes to diet and breeding, which is a shame because these birds are truly one of a kind.
Due to habitat loss, bird trade, and persecution for taking chickens, the IUCN has listed Flores hawk-eagles as a Critically Endangered species. Some estimates claim that less than 250 of these birds remain today.
This concludes our list of eagles with white heads. Hopefully next time you see these birds, you will recognize any of them with ease! Just make sure to keep a safe distance.