Article Overview: Eagles of Alaska
AlaskaExplored is THE DESTINATION for all things Alaska. Wether you’re planning a trip to bird watch eagles in Alaska or you’re just curious about the last frontier and all the other critters living in it, we got you covered. Here at AlaskaExplored.com you’ll find expert tips, detailed guides, stunning photographs, and so much more.
Together AlaskaExplored has more than twenty years of experience traveling, working, and exploring the beautifully rugged, 49th state. Working in television has taken us all around the world, and no place more than Alaska. During our time here we’ve documented countless stories from every corner and crevasse of the state. We’ve helped showcase the grandeur of this wild place for National Geographic, Discovery, Disney, Animal Planet, and more. Now we want to share our knowledge and real life experiences with you!
Wether I was shushing flocks of eagles away from our bait on a crab boat or simply admiring them from afar while filming, we have encountered eagles in Alaska countless times. We’re are confident we can help you learn more about them and help plan your trip to witness them yourself.
Eagles in Alaska
Table of Contents
Table of contents
- Eagles in Alaska
- Eagles in Alaska: Facts
- Where to See Eagles in Alaska
- Alaska Bald Eagle Festival
- Juvenile Bald Eagles in Alaska
- Map of Best Spots to see Eagles in Alaska
- Video of Bald Eagles in Dutch Harbor, Alaska
Eagles in Alaska: Facts
You might not know it, but there are four different species of eagles in Alaska. There is of course, the iconic Bald Eagle, which reigns supreme in terms of popularity and population.
Then there are the Golden Eagles, whom mostly migrate to Alaska in the summer to breed. Then there are the lesser known Steller Sea Eagle and the White-tailed Eagle. Both of which are rare and mostly inhabit the remote western Aleutian Islands.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be concentrating on the almighty Bald Eagle.So let’s just dive in! here are some facts about bald eagles in Alaska.
Bald Eagles in Alaska: size, weight, & Wingspan
The shear size of a Bald Eagle is jaw dropping. No matter how many times I see one in the wild, they still demand my attention and respect. The Bald Eagles of Alaska are truly some big ass birds!
- Size: Bald eagles body length ranges from 28 to 40 inches.
- Weight: Adult male bald eagles typically weigh between 8 to 14 pounds. Females are generally larger, around 10 to 17 pounds.
- Wingspan: A Bald Eagles wingspan can reach an impressive 6 to 7.5 feet from tip to tip. The only raptors in North America with a larger wingspan are the Golden Eagle and the California Condor.
Bald Eagles in alaska: Habitat
The bald eagles of Alaska live in habitats as diverse as the state itself. They can be found throughout Alaska, most commonly in:
- Coastal regions, large bodies of water, and along major river systems: Their preference for fish-rich areas leads them to congregate near salmon runs during the spawning season, where they feast on the abundant fish.
- Wilderness: Alaska offers these majestic birds a variety of nesting sites, including tall trees, cliffs, and rocky outcrops, which provide both safety and strategic vantage points for hunting.
- Urban areas: bald eagles can be found nesting on power poles and tall structures, adapting to the changing landscape.
Bald Eagles in Alaska: Diet
The Bald eagles of Alaska aren’t the pickiest of eaters, I’ve seen them pulling out garbage behind Safeway almost as much as I’ve seen them snatching fresh fish from a salmon run. They are undisputed survivors, varying their diet in order to adapt to different environments.
- Salmon: During spawning season, the bald eagles of Alaska congregate near rivers and coastal areas to gorge themselves on the easy prey.
- Fish: Salmon and other fish make up more than 50% of their diet.
- Mammals: The bald eagles of Alaska are opportunistic hunters, and they’ll hunt whatever they can catch, including small mammals, birds.
- Carrion: Bald Eagles are not above eating the rotting flesh of dead animals. They are scavenger birds, I’ve witnessed Bald Eagles cleaning up the aftermath of wolf killed deer carcasses.
- Trash: In more urban settings, they may scavenge for food near human settlements.
Bald Eagles in Alaska: Reproduction
The Bald Eagles in Alaska have some really wild seduction techniques. These fancy headed fowls have elaborate courtship rituals, build massive nest, and really take parenting to the next level.
- Mates: Bald Eagles of Alaska are monogamous AF. While they need their time apart in the winter, the same pair always hooks back up every year for a summer breeding fling.
- Courtship: Bald eagles have some really crazy courtship rituals that involve wild aerial displays, where they will perform acrobatic flights, diving towards the ground and latching on to one another at the last second. Talk about bonding, amiright?
- Timeline: The breeding season for Eagles in Alaska typically starts in the winter, with nest building and “you up?” txts. One to three eggs are laid, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs, which lasts about 35 days.
- Nests: Bald Eagles in Alaska like to situate their nests near bodies of water. These massive nests are frequently reused and expanded throughout the years.
- Postpartum: Once hatched, the feathered duo remain dedicated parents. From day one they feed their young raw meat and provide protection until they fledge and become independent, usually around 10 to 13 weeks.
Where to See Eagles in Alaska
You could be walking down Main Street in Juneau, and see three bald eagles perched on a street light. You could walk out of Safeway in Dutch Harbor and see 30 eagles sitting on a dumpster, or you could be driving to happy hour in Homer and see a dozen or so on the beach.
Point is, it’s not hard to spot a bald eagle in Alaska. BUT, there are places that are better than others. So here’s a list of some bald eagle hotspots in Alaska. Theres also a few preserves and sanctuaries on the list, for those who aren’t messing around and want a 100% guarantee of seeing a bald eagle in Alaska.
List of Places to see bald eagles in alaska:
- Homer: A lot of the pictures in this article were taken in Homer, Alaska. I spent years there filming a tv show for discovery channel and we got used to seeing them perched on our roof and deck. If you come to Homer in the summer, you’ll see bald eagles.
- Haines: The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines is renowned for hosting one of the largest gatherings of bald eagles in the world during the late fall and winter.
- Ketchikan: The eagles here are often spotted along the waterfront and near salmon streams. They love the salmon rich coastal areas. Plus, Ketchikan is just a really cool city, win win.
- Sitka: The Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka rehabilitates injured eagles and other birds of prey. Visiting the center provides an opportunity to view eagles up close and learn about their conservation efforts.
- Anchorage: The Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge and Potter Marsh are good places to spot eagles, particularly during the salmon runs.
- Kenai River: Epic salmon runs lead to epic numbers of bald eagles. The Kenai river is a hotspot, but anywhere on the Kenai Peninsula has potential for an eagle spotting.
- Dutch Harbor: Perhaps the highest density of bald eagles I have ever personaly witnessed was in Unalaska. These brazen birds would be around every corner looking to get lucky with some unattended crab bait.
These are just a few hot spots for spotting bald eagles in Alaska. The truth is, it’s hard not to spot a bald eagle in Alaska. So get out there and be impressed with our beautiful, complex, white headed friends.
Alaska Bald Eagle Festival
The Alaska Bald Eagle Festival is an annual celebration of the majestic bald eagles that flock to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Held in the quaint town of Haines, the festival attracts birdwatchers, photographers, nature enthusiasts, and tourists from around the world.
The event takes place every year in November, when thousands of bald eagles congregate along the Chilkat River to feast on the late salmon run. If you want to see bald eagles in Alaska by the numbers, this is the place to do it!
Guided tours and educational programs are organized to provide insights into the behavior, biology, and conservation efforts of these iconic raptors. Expert ornithologists and wildlife photographers lead workshops, offering valuable tips and techniques for capturing that perfect eagle shot. #eaglesALLday!
Beyond eagle watching, the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival also showcases local art, culture, and traditions. Attendees can enjoy performances by native dance groups, savor delicious regional cuisine, and explore artisanal craft markets featuring handmade items inspired by the eagle and Alaska’s natural beauty.
For event schedules and more info on the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival, check out their Facebook page.
Birdwatching Advice & Tips
To make the most of your bald eagle watching adventure in Alaska, here are some tips and advice:
- Timing is Everything: While you can certainly see bald eagles in the winter, I suggest planning your Alaskan Bald Eagle watching trip during the salmon runs, typically from late spring to early fall. Eagles flock to the rivers and coastal areas during this time and it’s a near guaranteed way to spot them.
- Hit the Hotspots: Go where the eagles go. Remember what we talked about in regards to the best places to see the bald eagles of Alaska, and plan your trip accordingly.
- Dress for Success: Alaska’s weather can be annoyingly unpredictable, so be prepared for all conditions. Layered clothing, and a waterproof jacket will help you stay in the hunt for the majestic eagles of Alaska.
- Gear: Bring a good pair of binoculars or a reliable long lens if you want the best shot at seeing them up close. The details are everything!
Juvenile Bald Eagles in Alaska
Juvenile bald eagles in Alaska are an often confused for golden eagles. But they’re a fascinating sight to see all their own. Their mottled brown plumage and lack of a white head and tail feathers, distinguish them from their iconic parents.
As they age, juvenile bald eagles undergo a transformative process known as molting. It takes around four to five years for them to get that classic white head and tail feathers. These young eagles also possess a darker beak and eyes, which gradually transition to the familiar yellow color as they mature.
Map of Best Spots to see Eagles in Alaska
Video of Bald Eagles in Dutch Harbor, Alaska
Truly an American icon, the bald eagles of Alaska go grocery shopping at Safeway!
Bald Eagle Conservation
Bald eagle conservation in Alaska began in the early 20th century when the species faced a significant decline due the widespread use of the harmful pesticide DDT. The powerful mosquito killing pesticide was thought to be a mirical, but like every quick fix, there were consequences. DDT washed into the waterways and contaminated the fish, the eagles ate the poisonous fish, the eagles couldn’t lay strong eggs, and their numbers quickly dwindled.
In 1967, the bald eagle was listed as endangered and substantial efforts were put into place to protect and restore their populations. With strict conservation measures, including the ban of DDT and the establishment of protected areas, the bald eagle population in made a remarkable recovery.
Today, bald eagle numbers have rebounded, and they are no longer listed as endangered. The do however remain under federal protection as a threatened species. Ongoing conservation efforts continue to focus on monitoring nesting sites, safeguarding critical habitats, and educating the public about the importance of preserving these special birds.
To learn more about bald eagle conservation, click here.
- Alaska is home to the largest population of bald eagles in the United States with an estimated 30,000 eagles. A number far greater than any other state. Here’s a fun article on each states bald eagle numbers.
- Eagles are skilled nest builders, and their nests, known as “aeries,” can be massive! Some nests can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and have a diameter of 10 feet.
- The bald eagle became the national emblem of the United States in 1782.
- Bald Eagles can fly up to 30 mph and can dive at speeds up to 100 mph.
- Bald eagles are monogamous and often mate for life.
- These birds have incredible vision, enabling them to spot a fish from a mile away!