#WildlifeWednesday – Looking Up! – Bald Eagles & Ospreys Part 1

Welcome back to #WildlifeWednesday. This post will be a lot shorter than last week’s as I’ll be breaking it into at least two parts. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing the basic differences between bald eagles and ospreys, both very common birds in Florida, and then learning a little more about eagles this week. Next time around, I’ll wrap up with some facts about ospreys, including some very interesting adaptations they have.

But first, how do you tell these two large birds of prey apart?

When seen up close, there’s no real problem. Mature bald eagles are solid brown birds with snow white heads and tails. They have a huge yellow beak, too. Ospreys have smaller black beaks and a dark brown eye-stripe that breaks up the white feathering on the head.Β 

Like bald eagles, ospreys have dark brown backs but they are white beneath. They also have dark bands on their tails, and several interesting patterns on their wings, which you’ll seeΒ  in the next #WildlifeWednesday post.
But for now, we are going to concentrate on the bald eagle.

The first thing to note is that the term bald was originally spelled balde,Β  the Old English term for “white.” NOW it makes sense, doesn’t it? πŸ˜€
Note also that this bird is quite large at close to ten pounds, and can lift
nearly half of its own body weight.

Of interest: though bald eagles can be spotted throughout most of North America, the highest concentrations of nesting birds are found in Alaska and Florida, and Florida is one of the few states where they are permanent residents, though our subspecies is slightly smaller than western birds.

Imagine gliding nearly 2 miles high and still being able to spot
prey the size of a rabbit!

Bald eagles fight both to defend their territory, and to win their mate. Their aerial battles are astonishingly vigorous, sometimes involving crash landings!

Show off! πŸ˜€

How cute are they?

As you can see, subadult bald eagles are mostly brown with some scattered white here and there. It takes about five years for their adult plumage to come in and their yellow beak to develop.

Because they return to the same nest every year, adding a new layer inside each time, their nests become huge over time.
The largest tree nests in the world!Β 

TWENTY feet deep!

Yes, that gentleman is lying in an empty eagle’s nest, and not even a very big one, considering. Even the one on the right measured less that ten feet deep, so imagine what a twenty-foot nest would look like!

Note the eagle on the right is an immature (subadult) bird.

Eagles will steal fish every chance they get. Here, one is harassing an osprey to make it drop the fish, which it will then catch in midair.
Notice how much smaller the osprey is than the eagle.Β 

The image on the left displays the markings beneath an osprey’s wings,Β  including the very dark “wrist” marks, right where the wing bends. Those marks and the banded tail make it easy to tell the difference between these birds, even when you can’t see the obvious size disparity.

I just had to share this amazing photo of a bald eagle’s feet and talons. Just look at the size! My advice? Do not provoke an eagle into attacking you. πŸ˜€
Don’t worry. They aren’t interested in doing so anyway.
But if you ever have to
rescue an injured one,
you definitely want to avoid those talons! 😯

The symbol of our nation since 1782!

And with this beautiful photo of an eagle soaring high above the ground, I’ll end this introduction to the American bald eagle. Hope you enjoyed it! Tune in on November 11 for Part 2, where I’ll be sharing some very interesting information about ospreys I think may surprise you. See you then!Β 






52 thoughts on “#WildlifeWednesday – Looking Up! – Bald Eagles & Ospreys Part 1

    • They choose their nest location very wisely, and come back to the same nest every year. Each time, they add a fresh layer of sticks to the inside, and it gradually builds up higher and higher. Someday I’ll share my photos of a lady who spent a week living in an abandoned nest to raise money for her Eagle Wildlife fund. It’s amazing! πŸ˜€

      Thanks for stopping by today, Janet, and I hope you enjoyed seeing part of my Eagle/Osprey presentation. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

        • Eagles don’t abandon their nests unless one of the pair dies, and the nest she used had been abandoned for several seasons. I’ll definitely have to do a post on it. She was affiliated with Florida Audubon back when I worked there, and I was out at the nest site frequently until her week was up. It was a remarkable feat and made all the local news at the time, of course. πŸ˜€ I’ll never forget her and her true dedication to the cause. πŸ™‚


  1. I love seeing the bald eagles when we are at the lake. Those talins are huge as are those nests which make them easy to spot. Thanks for sharing all their fascinating facts, Marcia:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, you can’t really miss an eagle’s nest if it’s within your line of sight. And it’s always exciting to spot one, even after all these years of birdwatching. They are stunning! πŸ™‚ So glad you enjoyed seeing this portion of my Eagles & Ospreys presentation. Thanks for stopping by, Denise! πŸ™‚


  2. We have a bald eagle’s nest in our neighborhood in central Virginia. They are very cool birds to watch, the way they fly and glide. They also get along surprisingly well with the turkey buzzards in the area (uh, you know, when gathered around road kill and stuff).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eagles are all about an easy meal when they can find one. They’ll eat road kill when available. However, I’ve also watched them fight with vultures over something as small as a dead squirrel. (They always win.) Endlessly beautiful birds, and pretty interesting, too. At least I think so. Glad you enjoyed the post and that you have eagles in your area. The sub-species in Florida is probably a tiny bit smaller than yours. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by today, Priscilla! πŸ™‚


    • They live in your area, Jeanne, but not always where everyone can see them routinely. Hope you spot some one day. They can take your breath away. And yep, those nests are amazing, aren’t they? BTW, hawks and falcons are good, too. I’m especially fond of kestrels, and will probably do a post on more birds of prey in the future. Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The eagles are so rare here a sighting is a once or twice per year deal. Ospreys are everywhere and we’re used to seeing them multiple times per day. I like how they carry their fish to make them aerodynamic. Parts of Idaho get wintering eagles and they show up by the dozens. It just isn’t where I live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You hit on something I will be showing in my Osprey post next time, Craig. They have several “adaptations” that make them perfectly suited to their role in nature, and I find them just as interesting as eagles. I remember when both eagles AND ospreys were endangered, and our Florida population was almost wiped out. Then they banned DDT, and both have come back beautifully. THANKFULLY! You must have plenty of water in your area for ospreys to be so plentiful. Fish is pretty much their entire diet. In fact, their common name is fish eagle, though of course, that’s a misnomer.

      Do you get golden eagles in Idaho? I’m woefully ignorant of western birds, though I DID see a golden eagle when I visited my daughter in California. Got a bunch of other “life birds” out there, too. Even a roadrunner, which made me happy for days. (Never spotted Wile E. Coyote, though.) πŸ˜€

      Thanks for stopping by today, Craig. Hope you enjoyed this one. Next time, ospreys! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

        • Coyotes have returned to Florida in recent years, too. Now we have them in every county in the state, and it didn’t take them long to repopulate. We, too, have urban ones in places like Winter Park, wandering amid some really nice residential areas. So far, I’ve never seen one where we live, though I know they’ve been seen in our general area. Honestly I hope I don’t. I like them better in the wild, where they aren’t a threat to small pets and/or garbage cans. (Though the raccoons usually beat them to that.)

          Sorry for your vanishing golden eagles. They are quite a sight, though I admit, I think the bald eagle is a prettier bird, with its striking coloration. Still, a golden eagle is mighty impressive. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  4. This was fascinating, Marcia. I always wondered why they were called bald eagles – now I know. I also had no idea they primarily ate fish or anything about their nests. I was basically clueless – now I’m educated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • From clueless to educated in one quick stop! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ I’m so glad you learned some new things, Teri. I VERY much enjoy sharing the things I’ve seen and was taught by true experts in the field. Nature is infinitely fascinating to me, and I’m happy you enjoyed today’s post. πŸ™‚ Thanks for letting me know. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, was that informative, entertaining, and educational. I learned so much! And the pictures were amazing. In my area there is a pair of eagles who return every year to their nest by our riverfront. There’s actually a webcam near the nest. It’s been cool to see when new eaglets (is that what they’re called) hatch. I also love seeing the adult eagles soaring over the river when I’m in that area. They are such majestic birds!

    Excellent post, Marcia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Mae. It’s so much fun to watch eagles on the nest, and raising their young. I’m glad you have some in your area, and that there’s a webcam. Those are SO cool! Yep, they’re called eaglets, and the adults are majestic, indeed. Thanks so much for stopping by today. πŸ™‚


  6. Super post, Marcia. We had a few Ospreys at the Texas coast. We named the biggest male Oscar. We loved it when he returned each year. His call was very distinctive. I enjoyed your coverage of the Eagles. There are a number of Eagle cams where folks can check in on the development of the Eagle family. They are sponsored by the American Eagle Foundation. Here is one from NE Florida. https://nefleaglecam.org/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oscar the Osprey. I like the sound of that, John. πŸ˜€ And eagle cams are SO much fun. Thanks for posting the link. I’m going to check it out myself, later. Stay tuned for ospreys in my next wildlife post, two weeks from today, if all goes well. And thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment, too! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. These creatures are utterly magnificent. Makes me sad to think they were endangered (pleasantly surprised to read they are no longer so)! I think if I could choose my reincarnation spirit form it’d be one of these guys. Or an owl.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Genuinely fascinating! I now know about the origins of the bald bit which I feel I should have thought about before. Also, here in the UK we go on a bit about how everything in the US is bigger – considerably bigger. You’ve certainly done nothing to disabuse me of this opinion. The size of the bird itself is impressive, but the nests? Unimagineably large… Keep these coming! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is, indeed, a big bird, though not the largest in the U. S. (The California condor holds that distinction sometimes reaching 24 pounds and having a 10′ wingspan. It became extinct in the wild in 1987,but has been reintroduced to several areas. Would love to see one of those!)

      But when it comes to nests…well, largest tree nests in the world is about as big as it gets! πŸ˜€ And though I have seen many very large eagle nests over the years, I can’t even imagine one 9-1/2 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

      So glad you are enjoying learning a wee bit about Florida wildlife, Trish! I do love sharing these tidbits in the hopes others will find some of them as fascinating as I do. Next time, we’ll talk more about the osprey. Stay tuned, my friend, and thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to share your thoughts! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: *Press This* #WildlifeWednesday – Looking Up! – Bald Eagles & Ospreys Part 1 #157 | Its good to be crazy Sometimes

  10. We have a few eagle nests in our area. One nest was in an area that was schedule to be torn down to build a shopping center. Once the nest was discovered, plans were put on hold until the babies had left. It’s been over a year, and nothing has happened. I’m not sure if it’s still because of the uproar that took place about tearing down the nest or if something else has come up, but it warms my heart that so many stood up for the eagle’s home. πŸ™‚


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