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How to identify Iowa's eagles

  • 3/5/2019 10:38:00 AM
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How to tell a golden eagle from a bald eagle  |  Iowa DNREagles are essentially massive hawks that are often seen perched in the open or soaring on very long broad wings. But did you know that the bald eagle isn't the only one to call Iowa home? 


Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus

  • The most common eagle in Iowa. As an adult it is easily identifiable by the white head and tail, large yellow bill, and a 70”-90” wingspan.
  • Juveniles are mostly dark with blotchy white on its underwing and tail. They take 4-5 years to reach full adult plumage.
  • They nest and overwinter in Iowa and are regularly found near rivers.
  • Feed mainly on fish, carrion, and roadkill. 
  • For most, the nesting season begins in late February and March. If you see a nest, be sure not to disturb the birds and report the nest to the DNR. 


How to tell a golden eagle from a bald eagle  |  Iowa DNRGolden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

  • Most common in the bluff country of northeastern Iowa, golden eagles can be found here from November through March.
  • Golden eagles are brown with a variable yellow to tawny brown wash over the back of the head and neck. Adults have a faintly banded tail. Their wingspan is 80”-88”.
  • Immature bald eagles are frequently misidentified as golden eagles but the golden eagle juveniles have well defined white patches at the base of their primary feathers.
  • It takes 4 years for adult plumage to be acquired.