North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Bald Eagle

Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus 
Classification: Nongame Species

Abundance: Found statewide

Photo: Mark Buckler

Species Profile



Additional Bald Eagle Information

One of the largest raptors in North America, the bald eagle weighs 8 to 13 pounds; the female is larger than the male. The wingspan may be 7 or 8 feet across, and the bird’s body can stretch 3 feet from beak to tail. Juveniles are uniformly dark brown or mottled, with dark beaks, talons and eyes. In flight, the underside of the juvenile’s wings may be streaked or mottled with white feathers. The bald eagle isn’t ‘’bald”; its name comes from the white feathers over the entire head. After four to five years, the birds achieve full adult plumage and coloring: a brilliant white head, neck and tail; bright yellow beak and feet; and pale yellow eyes. Bald eagles hold their wings flat when soaring high in the sky, unlike vultures and other large birds whose wings make a slight vee.

Learn more by reading the Bald Eagle Species Profile

The bald eagle is a nongame species with no open hunting season. In North Carolina, the bald eagle is listed as a threatened species.

The bald eagle is a federally protected bird. Please contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services for any issues with this species. The toll free number is (866) 4USDA-WS (866-487-3297)

In 1982, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission began a “hacking” program, which involved raising eagles in captivity and reintroducing them in the wild. Young eagles were released near Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County. Commission biologists monitored the juveniles and in 1984, North Carolina’s first post-DDT wild bald eagle nest was documented 7 miles from the lake.
While Commission biologists no longer raise eagles and release them, they do continue to monitor and identify the locations of new bald eagle nests and provide technical guidance to landowners about how to protect bald eagles and their nesting sites. In most circumstances, biologists are able to work with these landowners to protect the eagle nesting sites without substantially interfering with the landowners’ objectives. They also meet with timber companies to discuss logging operations around eagle nests.