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7 Birds of Prey in America

American eagle
Close up shot of United States iconic bird facing camera with wings spread in flight. Image by OpenRangeStock via Depositphotos

Birds of prey are often apex predators in their environment. This article explores seven birds of prey that are native to America.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Eagle reaches for fish.
Eagle reaches for fish. Image by gjohnstonphoto via Depositphotos

As the national bird and symbol of the United States since 1782, the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucophalus) deserves its place at the top of this list. Bald eagles are easily recognized by their white heads and tails, which starkly contrast their dark brown bodies and wings. They are known for their strong monogamous bond. One of the most spectacular aspects of bald eagle courtship is the “courtship cartwheel.” In this display, they soar to a high altitude, lock talons, and spin to the ground together. If you would like to learn more about these magnificent creatures, head to our bald eagle category page by clicking here.

YouTube video
“Eagles Spiral Courtship”, Source: “YouTube”, Uploaded: “Wildhood Book”

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) perched on rock
Image by MarkCauntPhotography via Depositphotos

The golden eagle is another of the best-known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. It is named after its golden-brown plumage. The golden eagle has adapted to various habitats and is found across Northern America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. It is a skilled hunter and feeds mainly on medium-sized mammals such as rabbits, hares, and ground squirrels.

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)

Female northern harrier (circus cyaneus) flying low over meadow.
Female northern harrier (circus cyaneus) flying low over meadow. Image by spineback via Depositphotos

The Northern Harrier inhabits North America and parts of Eurasia. It is an effective bird of prey that hunts small mammals such as voles and mice. Its acute hearing is aided by its facial disc, which directs sound to the ears. Unlike other birds of prey, the Northern Harrier usually nests on the ground.

White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)

Close-up of White-tailed sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in flight with the powerful claws catching a fish, Norway.
Close-up of White-tailed sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in flight with the powerful claws catching a fish, Norway. Image byGiedriius via Depositphotos

White-tailed Eagles are mainly found in Eurasia; however, they are occasionally found in Greenland and coastal islands off eastern North America. This impressive bird of prey is one of the largest eagles. Their body length ranges from 66 to 94 cm (26 to 37 inches) and their wingspan between 1.8 to 2.45 meters (5.9 to 8 feet)!

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)

The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) Bird of Prey
The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja). Image by murilomazzo via Depositphotos

This bird of prey is native to Central and South America. It has some of the largest talons of any living eagle and is an apex predator in its environment. Unfortunately, this species is considered near-threatened due to deforestation and habitat destruction.

Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis)

Crested Eagle Bird Isolated
Crested Eagle Bird Isolated. Image by ammmit via Depositphotos

The Crested Eagle is an elusive bird of prey found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. They are skilled hunters, preying on medium-sized arboreal mammals such as monkeys, sloths, and large birds. The crested eagle is considered vulnerable due to deforestation and habitat destruction.

Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus)

Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus)
Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus) By Kai Squires – https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/247491826, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=128810017

The unique-looking black-and-white Hawk-Eagle is found across tropical regions of Latin America. Despite its name, this species is classified as a true eagle. The term hawk-eagle refers to certain characteristics and behaviors that are associated with both hawks and eagles. This bird of prey captures small mammals, reptiles, and insects.

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