Baby Bald Eagles: Hatching to Fledging

Baby Bald Eagles: Hatching to Fledging

From the moment they hatch until they fly, this article follows the growth as well as development of newborn bald eagles.

The page also includes photographs of baby bald eagles at different phases of growth as well as development. The sequential picture series may be used to estimate the age as well as development stage of bald eagle eaglets in a nest.

When do bald eagle chicks hatch?

The first egg hatches after 35 days of incubation, which is a pretty lengthy time. The remainder of the eggs hatch about the same time as the second as well as third eggs laid by the female bald eagle.

Due to the fact that the female eagle begins incubating the first egg as quickly as she lays it, embryo development begins much sooner in the first egg than it does in the second and third eggs, there is a difference in egg hatching time.

However, it is not uncommon for female bald eagles to lay eggs on successive days, but this is not always the case. In the majority of cases, clutches are completed in 3 to 6 days on average, which implies that all eggs hatch at approximately the same time.

The hatching young eagles break as well as pip open the eggshell on their own, without the assistance of their parents.

From south to north, the time of egg hatching varies with latitude. Bald Eagle eggs in the south hatch first, followed by eagle eggs in the north as well as Canada.


Region Approximate date of Egg Hatching

Hatching of eggs may begin as early as November and end as late as May. The majority of egg hatching occurs in January through February.

Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. In January, the eggs begin to hatch. By the latter week of February to the end of March, the majority of the eggs had hatched.
Province of Saskatchewan, Canada. The majority of the egg hatching seems to take place in the second part of May.
Yellowstone ecosystem, Wyoming. From early April through mid-May, eagle eggs hatch. Eggs in higher-elevation nests begin to hatch later than April.
Arizona. Eggs begin to hatch in February as well as continue until late March.
Country of Mexico.

From late January to early February, eagle eggs seem to begin hatching.

Alaska as well as Yukon Territory. The egg hatching season runs from late May through the end of June, with the second week of June being the busiest.

Parental guidance

During the first week after hatching, both the mother as well as the bald eagle brood the newborn eagles. The female is the one who performs the most of the brooding.

The parents leave the nestling eagles exposed for a week after the first week, but they return to brooding most of the time during severe weather.

When it comes to caring for the eaglets during their first three weeks of life, it is believed that the female spends approximately 90 percent of her time on the nest, while the male provides food for both the mother and the young.

During the first three weeks, the mother may leave the nest for a few minutes at a time, but the male replaces her and ensures that the eaglets are never left unattended.

Around the third week, the parents begin to take a more relaxed approach to brood care, leaving the eaglets in the nest unattended for brief periods of time. During the 5th and 6th weeks, the parents continue to spend increasing amounts of time away from the nest, and they also begin to roost in locations other than the nest.

The mother may shield the young eagles from the sun on hot as well as sunny days. She may try to brood the increasingly bigger nestlings on chilly days to keep the eaglets warm.

The bald eagle eaglets are being fed

As soon as it hatches, the first eaglet is fed, and it immediately gains an edge in terms of growth over the second and third eaglets. The male delivers food for both the mother as well as the chicks during the first two as well as a half weeks.

The female shreds little bits of what the male provides to feed the young eagles during the first days after hatching. Both parents rip larger chunks of food as the eaglets develop.

By the fourth week, both parents are foraging for food as well as bringing about the same quantity to the nest. The mother seems to provide more food to the nest than the male as the chicks grow older.

Around the seventh week, the chicks start tearing chunks of the fish brought to the nest by their parents.

Most of the time, the first hatchling obtains the majority of the food.

It was observed in the field that three four-week old eaglets were being fed by adult bald eagles, and that there were significant differences in the amount of food that each eaglet received from the adults. An adult eagle brought a large fish to the nest and fed it to the three eaglets, with 67 percent of the fish going to the largest eaglet, 18.9 percent to the second eaglet, and 13.7 percent to the third eaglet, according to the report.

The discrepancies were considerably more pronounced in another nest with three young eagles. The biggest eaglet obtained 96 percent of the fish, while the second-largest eaglet got 2.5 percent, as well as the third chick got just 1.2 percent. The tiniest eaglet in this final nest ultimately perished of malnutrition.

Do bald eagle babies kill their siblings?

Baby bald eagles can, in fact, murder each other. Nestlings that have just hatched might be rather hostile towards one another. They seem to be naturally hostile. They may fight as well as injure each other, or they can stop fighting as well as develop together.

The availability of food seems to be the decisive factor in how hostile eaglets are to one another.

Broods of two or three eaglets do not display much aggressiveness against each other when their parents bring lots of food. When food is plentiful, all three eaglets fledge the nest at around the same size, despite having shown variances in growth earlier in the nest.

When food is sparse, however, the size disparity between the first, second, as well as third young eagles becomes more noticeable. The bigger eaglet takes advantage of the little food provided to the nest as well as continues to develop while the others lag. The tiniest eaglet is either murdered or starved to death by its bigger siblings.

If there is adequate food for two eaglets, they will develop without difficulty. If food becomes limited, the bigger eaglet will take the majority of the food provided to the nest as well as will grow hostile towards its younger sister, perhaps killing it or driving it to hunger.

Adult eagles do not interfere in eaglet fights other than providing food to the nest.

Why do bald eagles lay three eggs if one of the three eaglets in the nest dies?

The parents of bald eagles will constantly endeavor to produce as many eaglets as possible throughout each mating season. With that goal in mind, they lay up to three eggs to see if they can choose a season with enough of food. If there isn’t enough food, they’ll settle for just rearing one or two eaglets.

Some ornithologists believe that even if one or two of the eggs are not viable, eagles lay three eggs.

Nestling bald eagles’ growth as well as development.

The following list utilizes images of baby bald eagles to depict the phases of growth as well as development of the eaglets. These photographs as well as accompanying information may be used as a guide to estimating the age of the baby bald eagles in the nest.

 1-2 days

Nestling bald eagles growth as well as development.

The natal down coat of newly born young eagles is white to light gray. The insulating qualities of this natal down are poor. The mother takes care of the eaglets during the first 9-10 days after they hatch, keeping them warm.

9 days

Nestling bald eagles growth as well as development.

Thermal down, which is gray in appearance as well as has higher insulating characteristics, replaces natal down. The eaglets in the nest can thermoregulate on their own by the 15th day of life.

Three weeks

Nestling bald eagles growth as well as development.

Thermal downed eaglet. The whole body is a shade of gray. Juvenile feathers begin to develop, although they are difficult to see.

Four weeks

Nestling bald eagles growth as well as development.

Through the thermal down, juvenile feathers begin to appear. Juvenile feathers are initially seen on the top of the head, back, as well as lateral tracks.

5 weeks

Nestling bald eagles growth as well as development.

On the breast as well as belly, juvenile feathers begin to develop. The head as well as back feathers continue to grow longer as well as denser.

5.5 weeks

Nestling bald eagles growth as well as development.

Feathers are still growing. The majority of the eaglet’s body is covered with juvenile feathers. The feathers on the tail as well as wings are rather short.

6–7 weeks

Nestling bald eagles growth as well as development.

Although the eaglet’s body is covered with juvenile feathers, the sides, thighs, as well as undersides of the wings still retain thermal down. On these tracks, juvenile feathers are just starting to appear.

8 to 10 weeks

Nestling bald eagles growth as well as development.

The juvenile feathers cover the whole body. The tail as well as wing feathers, on the other hand, continue to develop for weeks after the eaglets have left the nest.

What is the average length of stay for bald eagle eaglets in the nest?

Baby Bald Eagles fledge between 8 as well as 14 weeks after hatching over the Bald Eagle’s range in North America.

Young bald eagles leave the nest in the following manner, according to studies of breeding bald eagles in various regions:

  • Bald eagle nestlings in California exited the nest on average after 12 weeks.
  • When I was around 11 weeks old, I was in Florida (108)
  • Around 11–13 weeks in Maine

The variation in weeks is due to the date of hatching, the availability of food, as well as the eaglets’ gender.

The first egg to hatch, on average, grows larger as well as develops quicker than the others. As a result, this eaglet departs the nest earlier.

When food is plentiful during nesting seasons, young eagles grow quicker as well as leave the nest sooner than when food is sparse as well as development takes longer.

Males fledge sooner than females, according to observations in the field. Male siblings fledged before the more mature female in nests when the first egg laid was a female.

Do both adults as well as young bald eagles clean up after themselves in the nest?

The bald eagle eaglets who are still on the nest defecate outside of the “bole.” As the eaglets mature, they will be able to defecate outside the nest by aiming their rear ends outside as well as “shooting” their droppings.

The ground vegetation underneath bald eagle nests with eaglets frequently has a characteristic halo of whitewash.

The bones as well as the remainder of the corpses that the adult eagles carry to the juvenile eagles are not cleaned out. Grass, moss, as well as other nesting materials bury the bones as well as the remains of the uneaten corpses in the nest. The nest has a strong odor towards the conclusion of the breeding season.

Baby bald eagles’ calls

After the first week, bald eagle chicks start uttering feeble sounds. Their shouts get louder as well as more collected when they learn to stand up around the fourth or fifth week. When the parents bring food to the nest, the eaglets vocalize quietly, but grow considerably louder.

It appears that young eagles fall to the earth on purpose, but is this true?

The majority of baby bald eagles do fall to the ground, but this is not done on purpose.

Nestlings begin flapping their wings when they are 8 weeks old or older, which helps them develop muscle strength. When they first get to the nest, they start by fluttering their wings in place and doing hops around. After that, they fly from branch to branch, honing their take-off and landing skills along the way. At this time of year, the majority of eaglets fail to land and fall to the ground, which is a sad sight.

Unlike other birds of prey, eagle parents do not train their kids to fly. They may be encouraged to leave the nest by their parents by flying around the nest and making vocalisations when it is time for them to do so.

According to field statistics, about half of all bald eagle fledglings die on the ground before reaching adulthood.

Eaglets remain on the ground for several weeks while their parents feed them, allowing them to gain the strength and coordination necessary to fly on their own.

When eagles loiter on the ground, they become prey for predators such as foxes, coyotes, and mountain lions.

What is the average length of time that baby bald eagles stay with their parents once they have fledged?

For the first 5 to 10 weeks after they leave the nest, fledging eaglets require parental help. In order to survive, the young eagles must rely entirely on their parents for food. In fact, field investigations have revealed that the eaglets are unable to forage for food for the first 5 weeks after hatching, as previously stated.

A pair of juvenile eagles follows its parents everywhere they go, including feeding places, where they observe the adults catching food. The eaglets begin to develop their own hunting abilities as well as their ability to locate food on their own. Eaglets begin their feeding by grabbing floating dead fish or scavenging on corpses left by other birds.

During their travels with their parents, fish constitutes the majority of their dietary intake.

Young bald eagles appear to learn to hunt mostly through trial and error, according to the research. Due to the fact that they begin hunting for waterfowl and other animals only when they have achieved independence and are no longer living with their parents, this is the case.



Bortolotti, G. R. (1984c). Evolution of growth rate and nestling sex ratio in Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Toronto, ON.

Bortolotti, G. R. (1986a). Evolution of growth rates in eagles: sibling competition vs. energy considerations. Ecology 67:182-194.

Buehler, D. A. (2020). Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Fraser, J. D. (1981). Breeding biology and status of Bald Eagles on Chippewa National Forest. Phd Thesis, Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Hunt, W. G., R. E. Jackman, J. M. Jenkins, C. G. Thelander and R. N. Lehman. (1992c). Northward post-fledgling migration of California Bald Eagles. Journal of Raptor Research 26:19-23.

McClelland, B. R., P. T. McClelland, R. E. Yates, E. L. Caton and M. E. McFadden. (1996). Fledging and migration of juvenile Bald Eagles from Glacier National Park, Montana. Journal of Raptor Research 30:79-89.

Wood, P. B. (1992d). Habitat use, movements, migration patterns, and survival of subadult Bald Eagles in north Florida. Ph.D. Thesis, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville.



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