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JamesM

Juvenile Bald Eagle?

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Just east of Toronto, ON.  Might have been too far away to confirm, but based on the colouring pattern I think it looks like a Juvenile Bald Eagle.

Raptor 1.jpg

Raptor 2.jpg

Raptor 3.jpg

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Posted (edited)

You are correct! Note the long, somewhat "rectangular" shaped wings held straight out, the wedge shaped tail (almost raven-like shape), and a big head and bill that extends far out past the wings.

This shape rules anything else out - Turkey Vultures have much smaller heads and bills and hold their wings in a dihedral, Accipiters like Cooper's Hawks have much shorter, broader wings and proportionately longer tails (often not held spread out like that) and are much smaller overall, and Buteos like Red-tailed Hawks have less rectangular-shaped wings with more of a "secondary bulge" and shorter, broader tails, and smaller heads and bills.

In my opinion, Bald Eagles are actually somewhat reminiscent in shape of Common Ravens more so than most of the other raptors like hawks, ospreys, harriers, vultures, etc.

Edited by AlexHenry
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And "juvenile" is correct. Juvs in fresher plumage have medium brown bellies only slightly contrasting with very dark brown chest. However, those belly feathers seems to bleach on some/many individuals, producing your white-bellied bird, which is reminiscent of the next two plumages of Bald Eagle (called White-belly I and White-belly II). However, the saw-toothed trailing edge of the wings of your bird (seen best in the 1st pic) indicate that all of the secondaries are juvenile feathers, as they're quite pointed, compared to the rounded secondaries of older birds. Here are March-April examples of three plumages:

Juvenile plumage

Second basic plumage - note that outer secondaries have been replaced with shorter, rounder adult-type feathers; then there are two juvenile secondaries, then two or three adult-type secondaries, and then the rest are juvenile secondaries

Third basic plumage - note that the bird retains only four juvenile secondaries, in two groups of two and that the bill is getting extensively yellow

Fourth basic plumage is, essentially, the transition from extensively juvenile-like plumage to extensively adult-like plumage. These birds have variable amount of dark in head and tail and white on wings, belly, and back.

Fifth basic plumage is, for most individual Balds, the first full adult plumage, however, many don't quite make it, retaining some bits of immaturity, usually on head and tail.

 

 

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