Explore Texas Wildlife Discover 3 Types of Eagles in Texas

Texas is home to a diverse array of wildlife, and one majestic species that captures the spirit of freedom and strength is the bald eagle. Eagles, the epitome of power and freedom, grace the skies of Texas with their awe-inspiring presence. These majestic creatures, boasting wingspans greater than an adult human’s height and standing tall with the stature of a child, navigate the heavens with unparalleled grace. Their exceptional vision turns the act of hunting into a captivating spectacle, leaving observers with an unforgettable experience.

In the vast expanse of the United States, only four eagle species command the skies, and Texas is privileged to host two of these regal birds—the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle. This article invites you to delve into the lifestyle of these magnificent creatures and discover prime locations to catch a glimpse of their soaring majesty within the Lone Star State.

Texas, a realm where eagles truly reign, witnesses the dance of the bald and golden eagles against the canvas of the open sky. Their wingspans, a testament to their dominance, and their keen hunting skills make them symbols of strength and liberty. Nature lovers and bird enthusiasts alike find their hearts captured by the powerful talons and sharp vision that position these eagles as top predators within the Texas ecosystem.

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Are eagles a rare sight in Texas? Far from it. The Lone Star State serves as a wintering ground for certain eagle species, ensuring that these majestic birds are a relatively common sight. However, the varieties are not numerous, with only three species calling Texas home. The Steller’s sea eagle, though rare, adds a touch of mystique to the roster, while the bald and golden eagles take center stage.

As you gaze upon these magnificent creatures, whether they’re soaring through the boundless sky or perched on elevated surfaces, their intimidating figures demand respect. From their large wings to their fierce eyes, sharp talons, and fearsome beaks, these eagles have rightfully earned the moniker “kings of the birds.” One of them, the bald eagle, has transcended the realm of wildlife to become an iconic symbol of American strength and freedom.

Types of eagles in Texas

Bald Eagle


In Texas, the Bald Eagle, scientifically known as Haliaeetus leucocephalus, stands as a captivating emblem of strength, freedom, and resilience. These majestic eagles have made a remarkable recovery, transitioning from the brink of extinction in the 1970s to a flourishing population today, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts and protective measures.

Bald Eagle in taxes
Bald Eagle

Identification and Appearance:

The Bald Eagle is a distinctive raptor, easily recognizable by its lustrous dark-brown body, complemented by a resplendent white head and tail. Despite its name, “Bald” does not refer to a lack of feathers but originates from the Old English term “piebald,” denoting its striking two-tone coloring. With a wingspan ranging from 66 to 96 inches and a size of 2.5 to 3 feet, these eagles command attention wherever they soar.

Identification and Appearance of bald eagle
Identification and Appearance of bald eagle

Habitat and Where to Find Them:

During their winter migration, Bald Eagles can be spotted in Texas, particularly near large bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. They exhibit a preference for habitats with open structures, providing them with good visibility, and tall, mature trees for nesting, roosting, or perching. Look for them near water sources, especially when nesting, as they construct massive nests in tall trees close to large bodies of water.

Diet and Food Sources:

Bald Eagles are opportunistic feeders, displaying a preference for large fish like trout and salmon. They are skilled hunters, adept at catching their prey, but are also known to steal from other birds. In addition to fish, their diet includes medium to large-sized birds such as ducks, herons, owls, and geese. During winter, when fishing may be less lucrative, they turn to mammals like rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, beavers, and deer fawns.

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Nesting and Reproductive Behavior:

The nesting behavior of Bald Eagles in Texas is a marvel to witness. As opportunistic nesters, they prefer constructing nests in tall trees near large bodies of water, where they can feed on fish. The courtship displays during the nesting season involve soaring flights and acrobatic maneuvers. Once a suitable nesting site is chosen, both male and female eagles collaborate to build a massive nest using twigs, grass, moss, feathers, and other soft materials. After laying one to three eggs, both parents diligently tend to the eggs, taking turns incubating them. The attentive care continues after hatching, with parents providing regurgitated food and warmth to their young.

Population and Key Information:

Bald Eagles in Texas have experienced a steady increase in population, reflecting the success of conservation efforts and habitat restoration projects. Protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to harm or disturb these magnificent birds or their nests. This legal protection, coupled with measures such as habitat preservation and restrictions on pesticides, has contributed to their removal from the endangered species list.

Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is a remarkable raptor found in various habitats across Texas, showcasing a majestic presence with a wingspan ranging from 70 to 90 inches. These eagles are renowned for their dark golden-brown plumage and regal demeanor, soaring across the vast expanse of the Northern Hemisphere. In Texas, they can be observed in far West Texas, including areas like the Highway 385 prairie dog village north of Marathon and Ranch Road 505 southwest of the Davis Mountains.

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle

Identification and Appearance:

Easily distinguishable by their dark brown feathers, golden nape, and white tail feathers, Golden Eagles exhibit sexual dimorphism, with females being larger than males. Juveniles have darker coloring and distinctive white patches on their wings and tails.

Identification and Appearance of golden eagle
Identification and Appearance:

Habitat and Nesting:

These eagles prefer expansive open environments such as cliffs, mountains, hills, agricultural areas, arctic tundra, grasslands, and coniferous woods. While they favor cliffs for nesting, they also use trees, observation towers, and nesting platforms. The nest, built and tended to by both the male and female, can measure up to 6 feet across and 4 feet deep, constructed with twigs, branches, moss, and grass.

Food and Diet:

Golden Eagles are expert hunters, primarily preying on small mammals like jackrabbits, hares, marmots, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs. They are recognized for their ability to pursue birds, reptiles, and on occasion, even fish. Their hunting strategy involves perching on tall trees or cliffs, scanning the surroundings for prey, and executing precise swoops with incredible speed, using sharp talons to grasp and kill their prey.

Fulvous Behavior:

Golden Eagles are known for their monogamous nature, establishing lifelong bonds with their partners. They return to their nest site each year, showcasing a strong sense of fidelity. Breeding occurs in late winter or early spring, with 1-3 eggs per clutch. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs, which hatch after about 42 days. The chicks take flight at around 10-12 weeks old, with both parents actively involved in feeding and protection.

Population:

While Golden Eagles are uncommon and rare locally in West Texas, available data do not provide a clear population trend for the region. However, in North America, statistical data from 1980 to 2006 show a statistically significant annual population shift of +2.9 percent.

Steller’s Sea-Eagle

In Texas, a variety of eagle species grace the skies, each possessing unique characteristics and behaviors. Among them, the Steller’s Sea-Eagle stands out as a captivating and sizable bird of prey. Unlike the more commonly discussed eagles in Texas, such as the bald eagle and golden eagle, the Steller’s Sea-Eagle, scientifically known as Haliaeetus pelagicus, is not native to the state. It has been sporadically observed, with a notable sighting at Coleto Creek Reservoir in Victoria.

Stellers Sea Eagle
Stellers Sea Eagle

Identification and Appearance

The Steller’s Sea-Eagle boasts an impressive physique, weighing up to 20 pounds and measuring around 3 feet in length, making it the heaviest eagle globally. Its wingspan, reaching up to 8 feet, contributes to its majestic presence when soaring through the air. This eagle is easily recognizable by its dark brown body, distinctive white head, and a striking yellow beak. The eyes, piercing and yellow-legged talons, further enhance its stunning appearance.

Identification and Appearance of Stellers Sea Eagle
Identification and Appearance

Habitat and Where to Find Them

Although primarily found in the rocky seacoasts and rivers of northeastern Siberia in Russia, Steller’s Sea-Eagles occasionally migrate to neighboring regions like Korea, Japan, China, and even into North America. In Texas, sightings have been reported around Coleto Creek Reservoir & Park. They tend to favor coastal areas and lakes near the coast during their winter migrations.

Food and Diet

Steller’s Sea-Eagles are formidable hunters, specializing in fish as their primary food source. River fish like salmon and trout are their preferred targets, hunted in shallow waters. Additionally, they may feed on water birds such as ducks, geese, swans, and even mammals like the American mink, Arctic fox, and red fox. The eagles exhibit a preference for salmon that die after spawning, as they are more abundant in areas with unfrozen water during autumn.

Nesting Behavior

The nests, known as “aeries,” of Steller’s Sea-Eagles are strategically built on tops of trees or rocky outcrops, often as high as 100 feet above the ground. The eagles demonstrate a meticulous approach to nest construction, using sticks and branches to build massive structures. Remarkably, they continuously add to these nests, ensuring they remain sturdy for multiple uses.

Fulvous Behavior and Population

Steller’s Sea-Eagles are classified as “Vulnerable” due to threats such as habitat destruction, industrial pollution, and over-fishing. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these magnificent birds and address the decline in their population. Interestingly, the eagles may exhibit a unique behavior of building a second alternate nest as a precaution against the first one becoming too heavy.

Key Information

Key facts about Steller’s Sea-Eagle include a rare dark morph with black feathers except for a white tail, a lengthy incubation period of up to forty-five days, and juveniles taking around four years to attain the coloring of adults.

FAQ’S

Which eagles are strongest?

The Harpy Eagles are recognized as the most powerful eagles globally, weighing an impressive 9 kgs (19.8 lbs.) and possessing a wingspan of 2 meters (6.5 feet). Despite having a shorter wingspan than other large birds, this adaptation allows them to effectively maneuver in densely forested habitats. Hence, when considering strength among eagles, the Harpy Eagles stand out as the most powerful.

What is the most famous type of eagle?

The most famous type of eagle is the Bald Eagle, which is also the national bird of the USA. This eagle belongs to a widespread and varied family found on every continent except South America and Antarctica.

Are eagles rare in Texas?

Bald Eagles are not commonly found in Texas; however, they can be spotted in certain areas near large bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and coastlines, particularly during the winter months. This suggests that while Bald Eagles are not abundant throughout the state, there are specific regions and seasons where they can be observed

Which eagle is more aggressive?

Golden eagles are known to be bigger and more aggressive than bald eagles. They prey on young Dall sheep and caribou, demonstrating their capability to take even larger prey. According to Fairbanks wildlife biologist Jack Whitman, who studied golden eagles in Idaho, these birds are specifically “built for killing.” Therefore, in terms of aggressiveness, golden eagles are considered more formidable than bald eagles.

Where Are Eagles in Texas?

Eagles are found throughout Texas, with habitats ranging from coastal areas to inland regions. The state provides suitable conditions for various eagle species, including the iconic bald eagles.

What US State Has the Most Eagles?

Alaska holds the distinction of having the most eagles in the United States. However, Texas boasts a significant eagle population, contributing to the nation’s overall eagle count.

Do the Eagles Live in Dallas?

Yes, eagles, particularly bald eagles, inhabit Dallas and its surrounding areas. The city’s proximity to water bodies and suitable habitats make it conducive for these majestic birds.

Do Eagles Live in Austin?

Austin is also home to eagles, with bald eagles being a common sight in the region. The city’s mix of urban and natural environments provides suitable conditions for these birds.

What Is the Biggest Bird in Texas?

The largest bird in Texas is the Whooping Crane, not an eagle. Despite their impressive size, these cranes are a distinct species and not classified as eagles.

Are There Mexican Eagles in Texas?

While there are no specific “Mexican eagles,” the golden eagle, a species found in Mexico, can occasionally be observed in Texas, especially in the western and mountainous regions.

What is the Texas bird that looks like an eagle?

The bird that resembles an eagle in Texas is likely the Harris’s Hawk. Though not an eagle, its appearance and behavior may lead to confusion.

Does Texas have golden eagles?

Yes, Texas is home to golden eagles. They can be found in the western parts of the state, particularly in mountainous and rugged terrains.

Are eagles common in Texas?

Eagles are relatively common in Texas, with both bald eagles and golden eagles inhabiting various regions. Their presence is noted

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  • Jill Taylor

    Hello there! I'm Jill Taylor, the seasoned homesteader and guiding force behind Bird Queries. With over two decades of hands-on experience in animal care, coupled with a BSc in Environmental Studies, I am deeply committed to sharing authoritative and practical insights with fellow avian enthusiasts. Growing up on a farm, my childhood was immersed in the rhythm of nature and the nuances of animal care. This profound connection led me to further my education with a BSc in Environmental Studies. The degree not only enriched my understanding of ecosystems but also deepened my expertise in holistic animal and plant care within sustainable environments. After college, I transitioned from our family farm to establish my own homestead, where I've mastered the care of diverse flocks ranging from chickens, ducks, and geese to exotic bird species. My journey also involves nurturing organic gardens, preserving food, and mastering age-old homesteading skills. Bird Queries was founded as an embodiment of my passion and dedication. This platform offers in-depth advice, evidence-backed tips, and time-tested practices on all facets of avian homesteading — from optimal bird nutrition and health to creating bird-friendly gardens and beyond. Your journey to mastering avian homesteading is backed by my 20+ years of experience. I'm always here to assist, answer queries, and guide you in building a thriving bird-centric homestead. So, if you're ready to embark on this transformative journey, I'm eager to support every step you take.

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