Tennessee has a diverse range of eagle species, each with unique physical characteristics, habitat preferences, and hunting and reproductive habits.
The two types of eagles in Tennessee are the bald eagle and the golden eagle. In this article, we will give you more details of the difference.
You will learn more about physical characteristics, habitat and distribution, diet and hunting habits, and reproductive and life cycle habits.
If you are interested in learning more about the wildlife in your area, this article will provide valuable insights into the different types of eagles in Tennessee.
1. Bald Eagle
The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a species of eagle found in North America.
It is known for its distinctive white head and tail feathers, which develop as it matures at around 4 to 5 years of age.
- These types of eagles in Tennessee have a distinctive appearance, with a white head and tail feathers contrasting with their dark brown body.
- Juvenile bald eagles have a more mottled appearance, with a mixture of white and brown feathers, but they develop their distinctive white head and tail feathers as they reach maturity.
- The adult bald eagle has a wingspan that can range from 6 to 7 feet and weigh anywhere from 6 to 14 pounds.
- They have a powerful build, with strong legs, talons, and a hooked beak adapted for tearing apart their prey. Bald eagles have keen eyesight and use their keen vision to locate their prey from high in the sky.
- The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is found throughout North America, and Tennessee is an important habitat for this species. In Tennessee, bald eagles are found in various habitats, including forests, wetlands, and coastal areas.
- They typically prefer areas near water, as their primary food source is fish.
- Bald eagles build large nests, called aeries, in tall trees near water sources.
- These types of eagles in Tennessee are often found along the state’s many rivers and lakes, as well as along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
- The bald eagle population in Tennessee has increased in recent years due to conservation efforts, and the species is now considered a common resident throughout the state.
- Bald eagles are highly adaptable and can tolerate various habitats, from remote wilderness to suburban and urban areas.
- They are also highly mobile and can travel long distances searching for food and suitable nesting sites.
- In Tennessee, bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) typically mate for life and maintain a long-term bond with their partners.
- They build large nests, called aeries, in tall trees near water sources, and the same nest is used year after year. Nest building typically begins in late fall, and the female will lay one to three eggs between late December and early January.
- Incubation of the eggs is done primarily by the female, with the male bringing food to the nest.
- The eggs hatch after approximately 35 days, and the young eagles, called chicks, are cared for by both parents. The chicks grow rapidly; by six weeks, they are nearly as large as their parents.
- Bald eagles reach sexual maturity at four to five years of age and typically breed every two to three years. The young eagles will leave the nest and begin to explore their surroundings when they are approximately 12 weeks old.
- Throughout their lives, bald eagles will undergo several molts, in which they replace their feathers. This process takes several months and allows the birds to maintain strength and agility. Bald eagles have a lifespan of up to 20 years in the wild.
2. Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is a large bird of prey native to North America, Eurasia, and northern Africa.
It is one of the largest birds of prey and is known for its striking appearance, with golden-brown plumage and distinctive white tail feathers.
Golden eagles are highly adaptable and can be found in various habitats, including deserts, forests, and mountain ranges.
- These types of eagles in Tennessee are large birds of prey, with a body length of about 32-37 inches and a wingspan of up to 7 feet.
- They have a distinctive appearance, with golden-brown feathers covering their bodies and white feathers on the tail and at the base of the primaries.
- Juvenile golden eagles have dark brown feathers, which lighten over time as they mature.
- Adults have a white patch of feathers on the back of their heads and a hooked beak used to tear into prey.
- Golden eagles have strong and powerful wings that allow them to soar at high altitudes and fly up to 150 mph.
- Their sharp nails, used to grasp and hold onto prey, are 3-4 inches long.
- They have keen eyesight, which allows them to spot prey from great distances.
- Golden eagles are highly adaptable and can be found in various habitats, including deserts, forests, and mountain ranges.
- These types of eagles in Tennessee are highly adaptable birds found in various habitats, including deserts, forests, and mountain ranges.
- In Tennessee, golden eagles can be found in the eastern and central regions of the state, including the Cumberland Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains.
- They prefer remote, isolated areas with plenty of open space and access to prey, such as prairies, grasslands, and other large, open landscapes.
- Golden eagles are carnivorous birds of prey and feed mainly on small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, marmots, and birds and reptiles.
- They have been known to hunt prey as large as young deer and coyotes.
- Golden eagles use their sharp talons and hooked beaks to capture and kill their prey.
- Golden eagles hunt from high altitudes, using their keen eyesight to spot potential prey from a distance.
- These types of eagles in Tennessee are powerful flyers and can quickly dive down to capture their prey.
- Golden eagles will often cache or store excess food to consume later, particularly during the winter when food is scarce.
- Golden eagles reach sexual maturity at 4-5 years of age and mate for life.
- They build large nests, known as aeries, in remote, isolated areas, typically on cliffs or tall trees.
- Golden eagle females lay one to three eggs per clutch, which are incubated for approximately 43-45 days.
- Once the eggs hatch, both parents help feed and care for the young eagles, known as chicks, until they can hunt independently.
- The average lifespan of a golden eagle in the wild is around 15-20 years, with some individuals living for up to 30 years.
- These types of eagles in Tennessee continue to mature and grow until they reach their full size at around 5-6 years of age.
- They form long-lasting bonds with their mate and often return to the same nest site year after year.
Significance of Tennessee as a Habitat for Golden Eagles
Tennessee is an important habitat for Golden Eagles for several reasons:
- Diverse Habitats: The state has many habitats, including forests, grasslands, wetlands, and mountains, which provide important nesting and foraging areas for Golden Eagles.
- Prey Availability: Tennessee has a healthy population of small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and groundhogs, which serve as important prey for Golden Eagles.
- Migratory Stopover: During their annual migration, many Golden Eagles stop in Tennessee, making it an important rest area for these birds.
- Protection: Golden Eagles and their habitats are protected by various federal and state laws, including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which help to ensure their survival and long-term health.
Both types of eagles in Tennessee are known for their impressive size, powerful wings, and sharp talons and beaks.
Both species are protected under federal law and organizations such as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Tennessee.
Thankfully, they are working to conserve and protect their populations through monitoring, research, public education, and reducing the impact of human activities.
With the help of these efforts, eagles continue to thrive in Tennessee, offering a glimpse into their incredible power and beauty.