Bald Eagle Facts and Population Health in Washington State

Bald Eagles in Washington State

An estimated 9,000 bald eagle pairs called Washington State home when settlers first arrived in the late 1700s. By the 1950s bald eagles had been wiped out of Washington and nearly wiped out of the United States with the exception of small populations in Florida and Alaska. Initially bald eagles were persecuted because it was believed, falsely, that they preyed on young livestock. However it was the introduction of pesticides like DDT that led to a rapid and precipitous population decline. It was not until 1972 with the banning of DDT that the population trend began to reverse. 

In the 1980s Washington was home to just 104 bald eagle breeding pairs. By 2005, an estimated 840 occupied territories were documented throughout the state. Due to this remarkable rebound, the bald eagle was removed from the federal Endangered Species list in 2007 and removed from the list of protected species in Washington State in 2016. 

There are indications that the bald eagle population is nearing carrying capacity in parts of western Washington. Their numbers may still be increasing in northeastern Washington and along some rivers in western Washington.

Southwest Florida Eagle Cam

Watch the eaglets hatch via live stream

Eagle Facts

  1. Eagle nests typically measure 4-5 feet wide and 2-4 feet deep and often way 1,000 lbs or more! The largest recorded nest was 9.5 feet wide, 20 feet tall and weighed over 6,000 lbs! 
  2. Bald eagle mated pairs perform elaborate mid-air courtship dances, locking talons and spiraling down before flying up and repeating. 
  3. The average weight of an adult eagle is between 8-10 pounds which is the same as a house cat. Female eagles are larger than males.
  4. The wingspan of a bald eagle is ~ 6 feet
  5. Eggs take 35 days from when they are laid until they hatch.
  6. The male and the female eagle take turns sitting on the eggs.
  7. Baby eaglets must ‘pip’ their way out of the egg all on their own.
  8. Baby eaglets stay in the nest for 10-14 weeks before they attempt their first flights.
  9. Young eagles learn to hunt by watching their parents hunt and parents often feed the juvenile eagles for several months after they learn to fly.
  10. In Washington, eagles are hatched in the early spring months (March-May) and leave the nest in mid to late summer.
  11. There are many places to go see eagles in the wild including the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center and more