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2 Types of Eagles in Ohio

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The bald eagle

Eagles are stunning birds of prey that capture the essence of the wild. No matter what you are doing, if you see one of these majestic birds it is a sight to behold. Just how many are there actually in the state of Ohio? 

There are two types of eagles that fly the skies above Ohio. One is the symbol of America and the other is a reclusive bird that people rarely see. Over the years, both populations have grown making them easier to spot without the use of a sighting scope or binoculars.

Here are the two types of eagles you’ll find in Ohio:

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Bald Eagles

Also known by their scientific name (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), make their home in Ohio. These creatures are one of the most recognizable birds in America. How could they not be? They are a symbol of what America is, after all. 

The bald in their name doesn’t mean they are lacking any sort of plumage either. It comes from the Old English word “piebald” which means white. 

You are going to see these birds mostly around water sources. Why? Well, they favor fish over anything else prey wise. However, they have been known to eat more than just fish. In cases where fish are scarce, they have taken down small mammals or other birds. If you are looking to spot one, you need a bigger body of water. 

Bald Eagle
Image Credit: Andy Morffew, Wikimedia Commons

Spotting one of these creatures is pretty common, but you just might not know it is one at first. These birds rarely get their coloring, as we know it till five years old. The young birds have darker feathers and their beak is darker. Depending on what county you are in will depend on how many Bald Eagles you could spy. There has been a documented 707 new nests in Ohio as recently as 2020.

Bald Eagles are known to make massive nests! Rather than make a new nest every year, this bird just builds on top of its existing nest. They start a nest over because it became too heavy to sit in the tree. The largest nest on record was 10 feet wide, 20 feet tall, and weighed in at 3 tons. These birds don’t like moving house unless they just have to.

When it comes to eyesight, these birds are unmatched. A Bald Eagle can hunt from as high as 10,000 feet in the air. Not only can they see eight times better than a human, but they can also see into the ultraviolet spectrum of light. This allows these birds to see past the reflections on the water’s surface and find fish that would otherwise be invisible.

  • Length: 28–40 inches / 70–102 cm
  • Weight: 6.5–15 lbs / 3–7 kg
  • Wingspan: 71–91 inches / 1.8–2.3 meters

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Golden Eagles

Golden Eagles (also known as Aquila chrysaetos) and are the rarer of the birds of prey in Ohio. Unlike their cousin, they are going to be harder to spot. These birds prefer the mountainous regions of western North America over the east. As a more reclusive species of eagle, they like to keep out of human’s way. They are more people shy and keep huge territories that can span over states.

If you spot one, you could see them hunting anything from fish to small mammals. They have been known to hunt small coyotes, small deer, badgers, seals, and mountain goats though. These birds don’t hold a lot of fear, and it clearly shows. In some accounts, they have even tried to snatch a bear cub for dinner.

Golden Eagle
Image Credit: DickDaniels, Wikimedia Commons

Golden eagles have this rich dark brown plumage that goes all over their body. The major difference between the Bald eagle and the Golden is not just the head color but also the feathers on the leg. If you see a golden bird, but it is missing feathers over the legs, then you know you have a young bald eagle on your hands. 

To impress a mate these raptors, take a rock or stick and fly up high only to drop it. From there they swoop down to catch the object before it hits the ground. If the male eagle is fast enough and does this enough, they stand a chance at mating. It’s an important decision as Golden Eagles mate for life. Once the pair are together, they often hunt together.

Unlike the Bald Eagle, these birds have criteria for making a nest. A good view of its surroundings. They prefer to build their nests on the sides of cliffs, but a tree, observation tower, nesting platforms, or even the ground will work. They build a new nest each year so, it doesn’t matter where the nest is as long as they can see everything.

  • Length: 26–40 inches / 66–100 cm
  • Weight: 6.5–16 lbs / 3–7 kg
  • Wingspan: 71–91 inches / 1.8–2.3 meters

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Are These Birds Endangered? 

Not anymore! Bald eagles were once endangered because of DDT. That was about 40 years ago now, and the population has been on the steady rise ever since the discontinued use of DDT. As of now, bald eagles are still protected in the country in order to keep the population rising. This even includes owning their feathers. If you see a feather laying on the ground, leave it there, or it could pack a large fine.

The golden eagle
Image Credit: papilio4, Pixabay

Golden eagles are also off the endangered list as well. There are about 20,000 to 30,000 of them in the United States with the population on the rise. Like their cousins, they are also under various protections to keep these birds around. Just like the Bald Eagle, you cannot have one of its feathers, eggshells, or any other part of the bird in your possession legally. This has been the case since 1940, when the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act was written.

Eagle Rehabilitation 

In Ohio, there are a few rehabilitation centers that take in and help injured bald and golden eagles. These places will take in and then released back once fully healed. If they can’t be released into the wild, then become ambassador animals to help teach people about them. You can find the list of all the licensed rehabilitation areas for Ohio here

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In Conclusion

Now you know about the two eagles that roam the skies in Ohio. While you may see the Bald Eagle more often, there is the chance you could see the rare Golden Eagle. Don’t let that stop you from going out and seeing what is around your area as you never know!

Featured Image: bogitw, Pixabay 

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.