Bald eagles here on the west coast of Canada are quite abundant and frequently sighted on both our Whale Watching tours and Wildlife tours. Most commonly, we see them either perched high on an exposed tree branch or gliding above, searching for food.
The bald eagle is probably one of the most distinctive eagles in the world, as it is the animal symbol for the USA. In Canada, they are the largest bird of prey. They have a regal white head, gold beak, dark body, and long talons. Their average wingspan is approximately 2m wide and their weight is between 2-4kg for males and 4.5-6kg for females. Typically, a bald eagle in the wild will live between 20-45 years.
Bald eagles are exceptional fishers. With their amazing vision, they are able to spot food from quite a distance. The large talons and small spikes (spicules) on their oversized feet allow them to easily grab prey. Generally, fish is their main food source; however, eagles will feed on rabbits, squirrels, young deer and even domestic cats can be on the menu.
Vision – The vision of this large bird of prey is very impressive! They have the ability to see about 4-7 times farther than the human eye. There is no real chance of sneaking up on one, as they see us before we see them.
Courtship – It is believed that eagles mate for life once they have courted one another. Amazing courtship, or dances as they're known, take place in the air with both eagles interlocking talons and cart-wheeling through the sky. It truly is an amazing and impressive display of their flying ability.
On Vancouver Island, the bald eagle population is healthy and abundant. However, on the IUCN red list, bald eagles are considered to be of "Least Concern". The population in America did have a dramatic decrease in recent decades due to the use of certain pesticides and chemicals (particularly DDT) entering the system and wiping out certain populations that have yet to recover.