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Confirm Juvenile Bald Eagle

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It is a Bald Eagle, but it's not a juvenile.  I'm thinking it's around three years old, but I'm not experienced with Bald Eagle aging.

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Great, Thanks.  After I posted the photos I realized juvenile was not the best description for it's age.

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It still has a few long juvenile feathers in the secondaries, so prebasic I, which if I understand that correctly, means it was born this past spring.

Scott

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1 minute ago, cavan wood said:

It still has a few long juvenile feathers in the secondaries, so prebasic I, which if I understand that correctly, means it was born this past spring.

Scott

Oh, really?  It seems awfully light for a one-year-old, even if it didn't have all those bleached feathers.  I did think the beak was kind of dark for a three-year-old.  I obviously need to work on my Bald Eagle aging...

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11 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Oh, really?  It seems awfully light for a one-year-old, even if it didn't have all those bleached feathers.  I did think the beak was kind of dark for a three-year-old.  I obviously need to work on my Bald Eagle aging...

I no expert on plumage.  I'm just working on what I read in the Wheeler book on raptors.  He says that only s4 and s9 are ever retained into prebasic II, but this bird has more than that.  If anyone else has expertise to add that would be great.

Scott

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I"m no expert either but I think you're both on the right track regarding age of this eagle.   First year birds show significantly white armpits and darker heads; this bird shows the strong whitish chest and lighter head of a second year bird.  Assuming it's a Texas eagle, or fairly southern in origin, it could have hatched as early as January, which means it could be just entering or about to enter its second year.

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This is bugging me.  I agree with TBN, this eagle looks very light overall to still be a first year bird.  That white chest and shaded cap look like completion of the second year molt.  The annual molts finalize by summer/early fall so I would guess this bird is at least in its second year, about to turn two.

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My cousin spends several months every year up in Manitoba video taping local nesting eagle sites and tracking chick hatchings and growth. Her guess is that that eagle is between 2-3 years of age. She mentioned no yellow in the beak yet and the dark head feathers in her email to me. Hope this helps.

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2 hours ago, pictaker said:

Looks like a second year bird to me...

Did you mean to agree that it looks like it's two years old (in its third year)?

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This is fun.  Aging Bald Eagles has become my new passion. 😅  I’m learning as I go, but for this one I agree with second year bird, about to turn two, on the cusp of entering its third year, if that’s what pictaker meant.

Based on what I’ve read, the third year molt is when the white chest gives way to predominantly brown.

It’s never ‘easy’ to age them but if there was a time of year that should be the easiest it would be now, since we know that the eagle’s birthday is going to be right about now through late winter/early spring, and molts generally occur gradually over spring through fall.

I welcome anyone’s corrections or suggestions.

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6 hours ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Did you mean to agree that it looks like it's two years old (in its third year)?

Yes, I do a lot of nest watching for the state here and I get to see lotsa eagles,  IMHO, I would call this a two year old entering its third year...I am not scientific about it, so cant give you anymore then what my gut says, that said, the juvies  are so varied and the adults have nests beginning in december in south florida, to late march and even april up north(for a quick example, one nest I watch here in jersey they lay their eggs in the last week of january, another I watch,only 15 miles away, dont lay till march,depends on the bird I guess, so assuming it was born two springs ago,the purple beak shows no sign of yellow so I would say its entering its third year now. 

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Heres a few birds that are known because of tags, the first one is a second year bird,which I would have called a first year if I didnt have the tagging info,almost no white on it at all, so again, aging them can be a tossup sometimes..

 

44474193580_a8d3c95a60_c.jpg

 

another Two year old, extensive white, one of the prettiest eagles I have ever seen, again this bird and the one above are the same age,shows how varied they can be, this one might be further along in its second year,maybe closer to three then the one above...

25816155278_3ca8bee519_c.jpg

 

Just cool to see any of them, but I love the juvy plumage more then the adults...

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I find this conversation very interesting and I am learning a lot about young eagles.  I am glad he stuck around an let me get some photos.  Thanks everyone for the lesson.

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So re-reading wheeler I realize my mistake.  I got the molt right I think (subadult I - accidently said prebasic above) with the p6-p10, s3-4, and s7-12ish still being juvenile feathers (long, faded, and pointed in the 2nd photo). However, that molt happens after the first birthday, not the first winter.  So that would mean it's approaching its 2nd birthday, despite the light colours.  Molt is probably finished for a southern bird, so it will carry most of these feathers into the fall of 2019.  Does that sound right, or am I still messing this up?

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19 hours ago, cavan wood said:

So that would mean it's approaching its 2nd birthday, despite the light colours.  Molt is probably finished for a southern bird, so it will carry most of these feathers into the fall of 2019.  Does that sound right, or am I still messing this up?

For what it's worth, I agree with your age assessment, at the same time acknowledging there is a lot of potential for variability as pictaker explained.  

You also bring up another interesting point and that is the timing of the annual molt itself.  I've read conflicting things about this as well, but from what I understand so far, the molt occurs gradually over the course of the year, roughly from late spring through fall.  If that's the case,  this bird could (and should) look quite different by next fall.

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