- The bald eagle is one of America’s most loved birds and serves as the country’s national symbol.
- Its population once plummeted to 1,000 in the 1950s, but bald eagles now number 300,000, making it one of the nation’s greatest conservation success stories.
- Alaska has more bald eagles than any other state, with 30,000 breeding pairs present.
The bald eagle is a symbol of American pride. Here we will take a look at the bald eagle population by state.
Meet the Bald Eagle
Where Do American Bald Eagles Live?
They live all over the United States and are abundant in most states.
What Do Bald Eagles Eat?
They are raptors who live near wetlands, so their primary diet is fish. They also hunt and eat:
What Is the Bald Eagle Population in the U.S.?
There are an estimated 316,700 bald eagles in the lower 48 states, according to the Migratory Bird Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This is excellent news for a bird that was once endangered. In 2021, USFWS Deputy Director Martha Williams said, “The recovery of the bald eagle is one of the most well-known conservation success stories of all time.”
In the 1950s, there were fewer than 1,000 birds left in the country. Conservation efforts, bans on certain pesticides, and laws against hunting all contributed to helping their populations increase.
In spite of an elevation in status to the emblem of the United States in 1782, the population of bald eagles would plummet with the passing of the years.
This was due to the fact that they were considered a menace by both fishermen (who believed they frightened away salmon), and livestock breeders, alike.
As recently as the previous century these regal raptors found themselves in the crosshairs of the government of Alaska with a 50-cent bounty on their heads. By the 1950s, the extensive use of DDT almost led to their extinction. Fortunately, the insecticide was banned in 1972 and efficient conservation programs entered the fray. And by 2007, the bald eagle no longer required its protected status.
Please note that some wildlife organizations count birds as breeding pairs. This is a good way to tell how well a bird population is doing. For our population numbers, we relied on official numbers from each state’s Fish and Wildlife Department, Department of Natural Resources, or another source.
Which State Has the Highest Bald Eagle Population?
Alaska has more bald eagles than any other state, with 30,000 breeding pairs present.
They are typically found along Alaska’s coast, offshore islands, and inland lakes and rivers. The majority spend winter in southern regions of the state, with some departing during cold months. In late fall and early winter, more than 3,000 bald eagles gather in the Chilkat Valley to feed on salmon. Many nest on the islands of Southeast Alaska in old-growth trees.
Which State Does Not Have Bald Eagles?
While it’s possible that bald eagles might be observed on the rare occasion during winter months if they deviate from their usual range (or birds exist there due to humans releasing them into the wild), there are no breeding pairs recognized in the state.
There are a few reasons why bald eagles are not present in Hawaii. The main reason is that there aren’t suitable habitats, as these birds require environments with large bodies of water, tall trees for perching and nesting, and open areas for hunting. Although Hawaii does have lakes, rivers and coastal regions, its vegetation is dense and there are few open spaces appropriate for hunting grounds.
Another reason for the absence of bald eagles in the state is that Hawaii’s waters do not supply large fish in abundance, making survival a challenge for these raptors that feed mostly on fish. Also, native birds including the Hawaiian hawk and Hawaiian crow are dominant species that would provide plenty of competition for bald eagles over available food sources. In addition, Hawaii’s tropical climate is unsuitable for bald eagles to breed, as they prefer breeding grounds located within cooler climates.
Bald Eagle Population by State
Alabama: 200 Pairs
Alabama has about 200 breeding pairs of bald eagles.
Alaska: 30,000 Pairs
Alaska has more bald eagles than any other state. They thrive along the state’s cold coastal waters. They also live in Alaska’s many interior lakes and rivers. The state is home to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.
Arizona: 65 Pairs
The state has taken many steps to protect bald eagles, and it has seen a steady increase in numbers as a result. According to the state’s Game and Fish Department, Arizona has around 65 breeding pairs, and a record 87 young bald eagles.
Arkansas: 80 Pairs
The best time to view these majestic birds in their Natural State is in winter when 1,700 of these birds descend on bodies of water in search of nourishment to get through the cold months. Wildlife experts and bird enthusiasts agree that the period between November to January is the best for catching a glimpse of these majestic raptors in their natural habitat.
California: 400 Pairs
The state has around 1,000 bald eagles who migrate to the state to spend the winter months. The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife says the best times to view them are during the winter months from December to March. The state does not get many bald eagles who winter there.
Colorado: 200 Pairs
Colorado has about 200 resident breeding pairs of bald eagles. It also has around 1,000 pairs of bald eagles that spend the winter there.
Connecticut: 82 Pairs
Like many states, Connecticut lost its entire bald eagle population by the 1950s. Today, it is home to 82 healthy breeding pairs based on active nests. The state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reports that Connecticut saw record-breaking numbers of active territories and successful nests. A total of 176 bald eagles have been recorded in total as of late 2022.
Delaware: 77 Pairs
Delaware has worked hard to improve its habitats for bald eagles. Many of the state’s breeding pairs can be seen close to the Delaware River.
Florida: 1,500 Pairs
After Alaska, this is one of the best places in the U.S. to see these beautiful raptors. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, they live along most coastal areas, rivers, and lakes of the state. Florida is also a favorite stop for visiting eagles.
Georgia: 198 Pairs
Georgia has struggled to keep healthy bald eagle populations. The bird has been protected by the state’s endangered species laws. In recent years, the state has set aside conservation areas and introduced baby bald eagles into the bird’s former ranges. This had led to the current count of around 200 nesting pairs.
There are no bald eagles in Hawaii.
Idaho’s bald eagle breeding pairs went from around 10 to more than 200 thanks to conservation efforts. The exact numbers are not known, but state wildlife officials say the breeding populations are healthy and growing. The state’s many wildlife refuges are excellent places to see these birds.
Illinois: 40 Pairs
Illinois has around 40 breeding pairs of bald eagles, but the state’s bald eagle population increases to more than 3,000 in the winter. Birds begin migrating to the state in December and continue doing so until April. This is the largest wintering population in the U.S. outside of Alaska. The state hosts yearly eagle-watching events called Bald Eagle Days during the winter months.
Indiana: 350 Pairs
Bald eagles were driven out of the state, but it now boasts a healthy population of 300 breeding pairs thanks to conservation and reintroduction efforts. An added 300 estimated birds visit the state in the winter.
Iowa: 400 Pairs
Like other states, Iowa sees a huge increase in its bald eagle population in the winter months. The annual migration of about 3,000 birds makes it one of the best places to see visiting birds. They nest along the Cedar and Iowa Rivers.
Kansas: 137 Pairs
Kansas began reintroducing bald eagles about 30 years ago, and the state’s efforts have paid off. According to state wildlife officials, there are 137 nesting pairs in the state. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism launched a three-year program in 2020 to study the impact of wind energy development on bald eagle populations.
Kentucky: 187 Pairs
Kentucky’s bald eagles primarily live in the western part of the state, but in recent years they have been spotted in the central and eastern areas.
Louisiana: 350 Pairs
Louisiana has a healthy, thriving bald eagle population. In 2015, the Audubon Society named the state a chief population center for bald eagles. It has 350 resident breeding pairs and hosts hundreds more in the winter season. Only Florida hosts more birds annually. According to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Service, the birds primarily live in Terrebonne Parish.
Maine: 800 Pairs
Maine has seen steady increases in its bald eagle population. In 2008, the state delisted the bald eagle from the state’s Endangered and Threatened Species List. In doing so, it cited the birds’ steady reproduction and the existence of protected areas.
Maryland: 1,400 Pairs
State officials stopped counting bald eagle populations when evidence showed that its breeding populations were thriving. Another estimated 2,000 bald eagles live around the Chesapeake Bay in areas that include both Maryland and Virginia.
Massachusetts: 76 Pairs
The state lists the bald eagle as a species of special concern, but state wildlife officials report that the current population is well on the way to recovery.
Michigan: 900 Pairs
After being driven to near extinction in Michigan, the bald eagle has made an impressive recovery in this state. Eagles nest along Lake Michigan, rivers, and inland lakes.
Minnesota: 9,800 Pairs
Minnesota has a large, healthy bald eagle population. According to the state’s Department of Natural Resources, this includes 30 nesting pairs in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Mississippi has around 100 bald eagles that live along the Mississippi River.
Missouri: 500 Pairs
Missouri’s bald eagles live along lakes in the Ozark Mountains and the Missouri River. It also welcomes many bald eagles that spend the winter there. The Missouri Department of Conservation hosts Bald Eagle Days to give visitors a close look at migrating bald eagles.
Montana: 700 Pairs
Montana’s bald eagle population is growing, and the state says it can support even more breeding populations.
Nebraska reintroduced bald eagles about 20 years ago, and their population has rebounded. The state also hosts several hundred visiting bald eagles every winter.
Nevada: Visitors Only
Nevada does not have resident bald eagles, but about 150 bald eagles visit the state every winter. Visitors flock to the Carson Valley to see them.
New Hampshire: 109 Pairs
New Hampshire has about 500 eagles and 109 nesting pairs of bald eagles. Most of the state’s bald eagles migrate to other states during New Hampshire’s icy winters.
New Jersey: 220 Pairs
New Jersey’s bald eagles mostly live along coastlines and the Cape May shoreline.
New Mexico: 2 Pairs
New Mexico’s bald eagle population has steadily increased in the past decades, and state wildlife officials say the birds have set up breeding sites in some parts of the state. However, the state does not count population numbers because these breeding sites are very recent. New Mexico hosts hundreds of bald eagles who spend the winter in the state every year. Recently, they have 2 reported pairs.
New York: 425 Pairs
The areas around the Saint Lawrence and Hudson Rivers attract many eagles in the winter.
North Carolina: 192 Pairs
North Carolina introduced 29 bald eagles into the state in 1983. Since then, the population has steadily grown. In a 2020 count, there were around 400 bald eagles in the state.
North Dakota: 300 Pairs
In 2021, North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department reported that the state had tripled its earlier count of 100 nesting pairs.
Ohio: 910 Pairs
Ohio has a growing bald eagle population. Most of the eagles live near Lake Erie.
Oklahoma: 500 Pairs
Oklahoma is home to 600 nesting pairs of eagles, and hundreds of bald eagles visit the state every winter.
Oregon: 570 Pairs
Like many states, Oregon stopped counting birds when it reached its recovery goals, and the number could be higher.
Pennsylvania: 300 Pairs
The state is also home to migratory bald eagles that visit the Susquehanna River during the winter.
Rhode Island: 3 Pairs
Rhode Island has fewer than 10 active, breeding pairs. The state has seen an increase in nesting sites and migratory visitors, however, the number seems to be rising.
South Carolina: 440 Pairs
South Carolina has met its recovery goals with 440 active breeding pairs.
South Dakota: 150 Pairs
In 2015, the state delisted the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List. South Dakota’s eagles do not migrate.
Tennessee: 175 Pairs
Tennessee has a stable population of breeding pairs and hosts hundreds of migratory bald eagles in the winter.
Texas: 160 Pairs
Texas’s bald eagles live along its rivers and lakes. Texas is also a favorite wintering site for many bald eagles, especially in the Panhandle and coastal regions.
Utah: 10 Pairs
It is not known whether Utah has active, healthy breeding pairs of bald eagles. The state welcomes hundreds of wintering bald eagles every year. The state has designated February as Bald Eagle Month.
Vermont: 68 Pairs
Vermont was one of the last states to reintroduce bald eagles. It did so in 2003, and it has seen a steady increase in its bald eagle population since then. In 2020, the state met its recovery goal with 68 breeding pairs. The state and numerous conservation groups have said that Vermont can safely delist the bald eagle from its Endangered Species List.
Virginia: 1,100 Pairs
Virginia is another state where bald eagles have made an outstanding comeback.
Washington: 900 Pairs
The state also attracts many bald eagles from colder northern regions. An estimated 80% of the birds here have come from other states or Canada.
West Virginia: 300 Pairs
The Mountain State is home to around 300 breeding pairs.
Wisconsin: 1,500 Pairs
Wisconsin’s wildlife officials say there are bald eagle nesting sites in all but one of the state’s 72 counties.
Wyoming: 185 Pairs
Wyoming does not usually officially count bald eagles, but state wildlife officials say the bird has healthy nesting sites on all the state’s major river systems. The population seems to be on the increase, and recent data reports 185 nesting pairs.
Summary of Bald Eagle Population by State in 2024
Here’s a table to see at a glance which states bald eagles can be found in 2024.
|Number of Bald Eagles
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Genfirstlight
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