What types of eagles can you find in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Whenever they appear, I make sure to stop and watch these incredible birds of prey. I’m always amazed at their beauty, large size, and astonishing ability to soar at extreme heights! And I’m not alone, as eagles have a special place in many people’s hearts and minds. These majestic birds symbolize many things, such as freedom, courage, honesty, inspiration, victory, and pride.
Unlike other raptors, there are not many eagle species that reside in Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, there are only a few species that can be observed on the entire continent.
Below are the TWO eagles that live in Newfoundland and Labrador!
Make sure to pay attention to the range maps to see which eagles live near you! For each species, I have included a few photographs, along with their most common sounds, to help you identify any birds you are lucky enough to observe.
#1. Bald Eagle
- Haliaeetus leucocephalus
The Bald Eagle is one of the most recognizable birds in the world!
But did you know that the “Bald” portion of their name has nothing to do with not having feathers on their head? As you can clearly see, these eagles have white feathers covering their entire face with no bald spots anywhere. Their name actually stems from an Old English word “piebald,” which means “white patch” and refers to their bright white heads.
While almost everyone knows what a full-grown Bald Eagle looks like, trying to correctly identify juvenile birds is tricky. These eagles don’t get their characteristic white head and dark brown body until they are FIVE YEARS OLD. Until then, these birds have all sorts of different plumages and streaky browns and whites on their bodies. Even their beak changes color! It takes A LOT of practice and experience to identify young Bald Eagles properly!
Bald Eagles are found across Newfoundland and Labrador!
After almost going extinct in the mid 20th century due to DDT poisoning, these raptors are a true success story. They are most commonly seen around bodies of water.
Bald Eagle Range Map
The reason that Bald Eagles are found around water is that they mostly eat fish! Look for them around marshes, lakes, coasts, and rivers. The BEST areas are forests near large bodies of water that provide good fishing AND tall trees for nesting sites.
Did you know that Bald Eagles build the largest nests in the world?
Their nests start “small,” but eagles add new layers each year. The biggest one EVER found was 10 feet wide (3 meters) and 20 feet tall (6 meters) and weighed in at 3 tons! Bald Eagles would keep adding to their nests each year, but what happens is that the structures get so heavy they eventually fall out of the tree, and the birds have to start over.
Press PLAY above to hear a Bald Eagle!
The Bald Eagle probably doesn’t sound like what you think. If you imagine an intimidating eagle call, then you would be wrong. I think they sound more like a gull, with trills and little whistles. In fact, movie directors are so unimpressed with the sounds a Bald Eagle makes, it’s common for them to use the call of a Red-tailed Hawk instead for dramatic effect!
With unmatched eyesight, it is not at all surprising that Bald Eagles hunt from as high as 10,000 feet (3 km) in the air. Their vision is about eight times better than humans. More importantly, these eagles can see into the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum. This adaptation is helpful because it allows them to see past the reflections on the water’s surface and find fish that would otherwise be invisible in the glare.
Length: 28-40 inches / 70-102 cm
Weight: 6.5-15 lbs / 3-7 kg
Wingspan: 71-91 inches / 1.8-2.3 meters
#2. Steller’s Sea-Eagle
- Haliaeetus pelagicus
The Steller’s Sea Eagle possesses dark brown plumage, white wings, and tail, a large yellow beak, and feet. Its beak is quite large, and you might even call them the toucan of eagles!
This eagle is among the heaviest in the world, weighing in at upwards of 21 pounds! As their name suggests, these birds eat anything that can be found in or near the sea. Fish are their favorite food, along with crabs, shellfish, squid, and birds such as ducks and gulls.
You will probably never see a Steller’s Sea Eagle in the United States. These birds primarily live on the coasts of eastern Asia, including Japan, Russia, China, and Taiwan. They don’t live in North America except by accident, where they can sometimes be found as a vagrant near Alaska.
These eagles make a deep, barking cry that sounds like “ra-ra-ra-raurau.” Another sound you may hear is similar to what a gull would make. Press the PLAY button above to listen!
Length: 34-40 inches / 85-100 cm
Weight: 10.5-21 lbs / 4.9-9.5 kgs
Wingspan: 79-98 inches / 2-2.5 meters
Do you need help identifying eagles?
Here are a few books and resources you can purchase that will assist! (Links below take you to Amazon)
Which eagles have you seen before in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Leave a comment below!
To learn more about other raptors near you, check out these guides!
- The 2 Types of Birds of Prey That Live in Newfoundland and Labrador!