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Bald Eagle Lifespan: How Long Do Bald Eagles Live?

Published: March 11, 2022

© Chris Hill/Shutterstock.com

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When you think of a bald eagle, what do you immediately think of? Do you immediately think of America and the majestic symbolism this bird has held for this country over the years? Your first thought might be how large and ferocious they are, making them great hunters.

Bald eagles are fascinating birds of prey that have captured our attention for years. Want to learn more amazing facts about America's national bird? We got an overview of bald eagles, including their average lifespan and the factors that affect their life in the wild.

Let's get ready to learn all about this amazing hunter!

A Quick Crash Course on Bald Eagles

bald eagle
Bald eagles can fly at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour and dive at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.

©Krumpelman Photography/Shutterstock.com

The bald eagle has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782. It was chosen for its majestic beauty and symbolic meaning of freedom and strength. Long before the bald eagle became a symbol of America, many indigenous peoples held the bird and its plumage in great veneration.

Bald eagles are very large birds, with females usually being larger than males. Female bald eagles are 43 inches long, have an 8-foot wingspan, and weigh about 14 pounds. Males, meanwhile, are usually around 25 percent smaller and weigh just over 10 pounds. This is one of the ways you can tell which hawk is the female when looking at a pair.

Vultures are opportunistic predators, which means that in addition to hunting for live food options, they also steal from other animals. Their eyesight is estimated to be four to eight times better than that of the average human. This 20/4 or 20/5 vision allows them to notice tiny prey up to two miles away.

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Now that we have a better understanding of the bald eagle, let's find out why the lifespan of the bald eagle is so fascinating!

How long can a bald eagle live?

Largest Eagle in the World: American Bald Eagle
Bald eagles are only found in North America, especially near large inland lakes and rivers where fish are abundant.

©Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com

The average lifespan of a bald eagle in the wild is 20-30 years. However, they have been reported to live up to 50 years in captivity. The oldest bald eagle in the wild has been confirmed to be 38 years old when it died.

Vultures have an unusually long lifespan compared to other birds. This is because they are top predators and don't have to worry about being prey to other animals.

However, bald eagles have a short lifespan compared to other eagle species. Other well-known eagle species such as the horned eagle are estimated to live an average of 25 to 35 years in the wild.

Now that we have a better understanding of the lifespan of the bald eagle, let's take a look at how the life of this majestic predator begins.

Average Lifespan of a Bald Eagle

As fearsome and majestic as apex predators, it's interesting to see how they become adult versions. Here's a glimpse of how a kitty develops from fluffy chick to gorgeous adult bird.


Bald eagles lay 1 to 3 eggs per year, with an average of 2 eggs. The eggs hatch in the order they are laid. The offspring, known as kittens , are covered in white down and are completely dependent on their parents for nourishment. They weigh only three ounces when they hatch. Parents take turns caring for the hatchlings. On average, they bring food back to the hatchlings about four times a day.

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Eaglets stay as chicks for about 10 to 12 weeks before first fledging or leaving the nest. During that time, they grow enough feathers to fly and grow large enough to start hunting independently. The parents will continue to tear up food and feed it to the chicks until they can feed themselves. Chicks are usually able to start feeding on their own when they are about 40 days old.


At 10 to 12 weeks of age, chicks are usually ready to take off, or take their first flight. They fly toward neighboring trees first, gradually increasing the distance as they gain confidence in their ability to fly. The chicks return to the nest and spend a month or more with their parents, learning to hunt and improve their flying skills.


Young eagles are first-year hawks that have not yet developed their full adult plumage. During their first year, juvenile vultures may appear larger than their parents because longer flight feathers help them learn to fly. After the first molt, the wing feathers will be the same size as the adult wings.


With each molt, the bald eagle moves closer to recognizable, characteristic adult plumage. Most of them have white head and tail feathers between the ages of 4 and 5, while some never completely shed the brown pattern. This usually indicates that the bird has reached sexual maturity and is ready to reproduce.

Most Common Factors Affecting Bald Eagle Lifespan

Portrait of American Bald Eagle
By the age of 4-6 years, bald eagles are easily recognizable by their distinctive white head and tail feathers.


Bald eagles are one of the most feared animals in the wild because they are top predators. However, there are still several factors that can shorten their lifespan.

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These factors include:

  • Human-caused destruction of natural habitats: The degradation of the bald eagle's native habitat is the most serious threat to the species' future. As the population increases, bald eagle numbers decline. The development of waterfront properties is the most harmful human activity. Because bald eagles depend on coastal habitats and aquatic food supplies, human development in these prized areas is the greatest threat to their survival.
  • Nest removal: Destroying pine trees, which are popular nesting sites, forces bald eagles to use inferior nesting sites. In some cases, the area will have no viable nesting sites. This leads to habitat abandonment.
  • Electric Shock: One of the immediate causes of bald eagle death is electric shock. Bald eagles often use poles because they make good habitat.


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More from AZ Animals

featured image

Largest Bird of Prey - Bald Eagle
The bald eagle is the famous national bird of the United States.

© Chris Hill/Shutterstock.com

about the author


Volia Nikaci is a freelance writer and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding and marketing. She has a background in broadcast journalism and political science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When not writing, she enjoys traveling, visiting used bookstores, and hanging out with her significant other.

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