A juvenile bald eagle has wings that are considerably wider and blunter than those of an adult. One thing that’s great about shape as a field mark is that it tends not to change much in birds, despite differences in age and sex, whereas plumages vary drastically. Ron: fabulous guide, thank you. Especially when attempting to identify flying raptors, shape is among the very first things one should assess. Jul 30, 2014 - Bald Eagle Feather Identification | FEATHER SCAN DATA. The beak is less dark and as the head becomes lighter generally it leaves a darker “eye stripe”. Hi Ron. Yes, thank you! You rush to find the feather where it lands. Lane, I actually thought of that possible interpretation of the title but chose to go with it because most others I thought of were either too long or less accurate in depicting the content. I’d wager that the couple have completely forgotten the big dark bird that left them scratching their heads, but I have not. This fantastic creature also had, as it raised itself above my car windshield, I was able to see a clearly outlined white horizontal line. The bald eagle's adult plumage, which everyone recognizes, is attained in the fourth year of the bird's life and replaced by identical feathers from then on. Finally, consult the U.S. . 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in, 1/800, f/8, ISO 500, 500 f/4, natural light, not baited, set up or called in. The adult Bald Eagle is unmistakable with its distinctive bright white head and tail contrasting with the dark brown body and wings. It’s only since I moved to the Northwest that I’ve had the privilege of watching eagles. Saved from fws.gov. Thanks so much for this post and great pictures. Thanks so much for sharing! Thanks Ron that was great and the photos incredible as a norm for you. If you find an eagle feather, can you keep it? Thanks again. Ah, the bald eagle, our country's national bird. Many of these younger birds are mistakenly identified as Golden Eagles by the general public. It is great to see all the ages. », Poll question: Do you have hummingbird feeders? Instead they were trying to make their observations fit their mental image of turkey vulture or black vulture, and it wasn’t working. Feathers consist of interlocking microscopic structures that are light, but very strong. I was in Grand Junction yesterday and much of the river is solid ice on top. But suddenly their vocalizing changed dramatically to a deep low honk, which caught my interest. Use BWD's Birding and Nature Festival Finder to help you select from events all over the USA and beyond. The face, crown, nape, and throat will go from mostly brown to mostly white. I enjoyed it immensely and I suspect others will too. This, I suspect, is the source of many misidentifications—combined with wishful thinking. Turkey Vulture vs Bald Eagle Feathers. I’m working on a watercolor of a juvenile golden now that has dark eyes. Years two and three are probably the hardest to get a feel for, but painted in broad strokes, here’s how it goes. Even if some of the progress you make is later revealed to be partially incorrect, you’ll still be a better birder for it. Let’s go back to the question of the lapwing field, “TV . or BV?” Although it’s true that many people confuse our two eagles with black and turkey vultures, the only pair to choose between is turkey vulture and golden eagle. Plumage after the first year becomes increasingly variable. The family moved across the channel and hung around for a while. Both eye and beak are very dark. After all, when you begin to include all the possible plumages, you find that bald eagles may show dark heads with dark bellies, white heads with dark bellies, or dark heads with white bellies. Patty, The eyes of juvenile Golden Eagles are dark brown while those of adults can be dark brown, light yellow with flecks of gold and brown, hazel and a few are almost white. Wild birds, which are almost always beyond our reach, glide, flutter, soar and flap across boundaries. I will keep that in mind when I see photogenically placed fish, that it might not have been a natural occurrence. That is exactly what happened. », Poll Question: Are You Participating in a Christmas Bird Count This Year? But no, he started to prune his feathers instead. What you will not see either golden or bald eagle doing is teetering from side to side as turkey vultures so often do. The eye is becoming more yellow and the eye-stripe quite distinctive. It landed out of view in a low spot, and all of the assembled birders headed out along the field edge in hope of a better look. Thanks! These people had just had an eagle zoom right over them, but they hadn’t fully enjoyed it because they were unable to recognize it as such. Solid brown or hazel are most common. Or perhaps, I’m thinking it’s an adult but there’s still transformation occurring. I hope you can get Golden Eagle pictures the same way. Though a lot of birders struggle with identifications of all sorts, very few people hesitate to call an adult bald eagle just that, provided it was even reasonably close by. How about some fresh-squeezed orange juice? We are truly blessed to have them here and appreciate your work very much. I learned after the fact that on some days photographers had been moving some of the carp the eagles were eating to more photogenic locations. We often get them in for rehab here in Klamath Falls, OR, and I typically rely on the feathering on the legs to determine BAEA vs GOEA, but these pictures are a HUGE help with not only determining which it is, but with age. Bald and Golden Eagle feathers are similar in size and their appearance changes dramatically with age in both species, with the feathers of subadult eagles particularly variable. Let’s take a closer look at those plumages and divide them into four categories. I saw it again this morning, taking off from a nearby island, about 200 meters away. Look at a good photograph or painting of a first-year bald eagle in flight, and you will see that it looks a bit like a flying door. Where i am from we have a dam on the Susquehanna river that is a major feeding spot for hundreds of eagles of all stages .In the last weeks of Sept all of oct,nov,and dec we can be assured to see between 50 to 150 birds a day.If you are not to booked up i would love to invite you for next years season.You can find me on Fred Miranda or flickr Thanks again for this info, Thanks Michael, very much. After a bit of waiting, we briefly saw the lapwing fly by on its odd, paddle-shaped wings. », Poll Question: How would you describe your bird identification skills? In year two, the belly is mostly whitish flecked with brown, but the entire head and breast are still dark, giving the bird a hooded look. », Today's Poll Question: Have you attended or are you planning to attend a virtual birding festival? . The previously mentioned differences in head and tail proportions are usually the best marks to use on distant flying birds. Hello Mr. Dudley, You might be the only person who can help me identify a huge bird that me and my car, came a couple of feet upon, that was picking up what I believe was a rabbit one foggy March morning back in 2006. Of course, you mostly see these facial details on perched birds. Please follow this link for more information. Fearless crow! It sounds like you live in a very, very special place, Chris. “At first, you think you’ve got it pretty well figured out,” he said, “But then you look at it some more, and it starts to seem confusing again. LOL. As a wildlife painter and nature lover, your photos and comments are priceless.