The Top 5 Largest Eagles Found in the United States Are Majestic Creatures

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: July 7, 2023
© FloridaStock/
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You might have seen an eagle perched on the high corner of a building, flying high in the sky, or diving deep to catch prey. But have you ever wondered which species are present in America? 

Eagles are a group of predators of large birds that prey and hunt upon vertebrates that are essentially 20 inches or longer. They all have the same family, Accipitridae, but may have different genera, which are closely related to each other. Europe, Asia, and Africa have the largest number of species of eagles, about 68 in total. As for other continents, the number decreases. For example, there are 3 species in Australia, 9 in Central and South America, and only 2 in North America.

In this blog, you will learn about the 5 largest eagles found in the United States, their identifying characteristics, preferred habitat, and more. 

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Infographic of Largest Eagles Found in the United States
The harpy eagle and golden eagle are among the biggest eagles in the U.S.

Habitat of an Eagle

Eagles are usually found perched in high spaces
Eagles are usually found perched in high spaces.


Eagles are distributed all over the world. They are found in tundras but may also be situated in forested areas. Having a diverse habitat, almost every human around the world may have seen a type of eagle at least once in their lives.  

These majestic birds are usually found perched in high spaces. They can be buildings, tall trees, or even high cliffs. They prefer to distance themselves away from humans, which is why you might not find their nests nearby. Their nesting sites are mostly in forested areas and lands. 

An eagle has a mixed behavioral pattern. During its breeding period, it may spend its time in solitude, guarding its nesting site. However, when its breeding period is over, you might find it being social with its species and residing in groups. 

Characteristics of an Eagle

Eagles have superior eyesight
Eagles have superior eyesight that is four to eight times sharper than the human eye.


If an eagle is a group of large birds, how can you identify them? Certain characteristics make an eagle a distinctive bird. Some of these features are common in all eagles, while others are only distinctive of a few species of eagles.  

  • Eagles are one of the largest birds in the wild. They range in size from 16 inches to an incredible 3 feet 3 inches in length, varying on the species. As for its weight, eagles can weigh between 1-15 pounds. 
  • Eagles have very keen eyesight. They can spot prey from a couple of miles away and have detailed-oriented attention. This is because of the 3 eyelids present in their eyes. In comparison, their eyesight is four to eight times sharper than the human eye. 
  • They do prefer hunting during the day, but they can hunt both day and night because of their excellent vision. 
  • They have a pretty impressive beak with sharp talons that is capable of capturing and hunting sizable prey. Moreover, the beak can tear apart the food source, build a nest, and even be used as a weapon. Apart from being used as a weapon, its beak serves defensive purposes too. The protein layer in the beaks helps the eagle from sustaining injuries. 
  • When it comes to the eagle’s talons, they can be as long as four inches. This is pretty huge for a bird which is why they are a main contributor in the hunting of prey. 
  • One of their most dominating features is the large wingspan. This allows them to stay in the air for long periods and soar high above most birds. Plus, their wingspan is the largest among all birds, making them a strong competitor in the wild. Finally, as their wingspan gives them a strong advantage over their prey, they can travel long distances in search of a good hunt. 
  • Their feathers have a very intriguing feature. They are light in weight but strong in comparison, making them powerful hunters. You might have seen them soaring high in the sky and taking a sweet dive when coming downwards. This is because of the composition of their wings. 
  • The tails of the eagles may differ with different species. They are usually of two types, short-squared or long-broad tails. The former help migrate the eagles when they wish to stay afloat in the air and reach their destinations in a hurry. As for the latter, it helps the respective eagles in making sweet dives and sharp turns so that they can easily and swiftly capture their prey. Almost all eagles use their tails as signals, either to show aggression or as a sign of yielding. 
  • The color of an eagle may vary with each species. However, it may be darker in shade. 

Largest Eagles Found in the United States

Eagles are found all over the world, but there are only a few found in the United States. Here are the 5 largest eagles that you may find in America. 

1. Harpy Eagle

The harpy eagle is considered to be the largest eagle in the world
The harpy eagle is considered to be the largest eagle in the world.


If we are talking about the biggest eagle in the world, nothing comes close to the harpy eagle. Its wingspan alone measures up to 6.5 feet. This species of eagle may weigh anywhere between 9 to 20 pounds. The harpy eagle ranges from Mexico to northern Argentina, found mainly in forests with tall trees. They can be seen at only a handful of zoos in the United States, like the San Diego Zoo.

Being the biggest eagle in the herd, it has the reputation of being a dominant and powerful hunter. Plus, its heavy build and large size give its reputation a strong sense of support. If you are lucky enough to spot one hunting, you will find it indulging in eating and hunting large vertebrates like sloths and monkeys! However, its diet may also include reptiles and birds. 

The harpy eagle may be the biggest eagle in the world, but its species have become near threatened.  

2. Golden Eagle

Golden eagles are one of the largest eagles in the United States
Golden eagles are large hunting birds that have a wingspan of approximately 7 feet.

©Touched by light images/

The largest eagle in the world may be the harpy eagle, but the title of largest hunting bird in North America goes to the golden eagle. This crown comes mainly due to its large wingspan that can cover around 7 feet with ease and weigh 7-13 pounds. On top of that, their amazingly incredible speed just adds to the title’s glory because they can hunt anything from rabbits to coyotes with a speed of 200 miles per hour!

These eagles are mainly brown in color but carry a few golden feathers that stay true to their name. In addition, there are feathers on top of its legs, making it a distinguishable feature for the golden eagle. They also prefer to hunt in pairs acting as a team, one chases while the other kills. 

Moreover, they are not as threatened as the harpy eagle. This is why they are one of the most common types of eagles found in the United States. They can reside in deserts and even make themselves at home in the arctic tundras. Plus, this is the reason why they can make a nest pretty much anywhere, especially on the ground. This species of eagle mainly occupy the western part of the country.

3. Bald Eagle

Bald eagles have a larger wingspan than golden eagles making it one of the largest eagle in the United States
Bald eagles have a larger wingspan than golden eagles, reaching up to 8.5 feet, making them one of the largest eagles in the United States.

© Bock

Carrying the title of the largest hunting bird after the golden eagle is the bald eagle. They have a wingspan that is larger in length than the golden eagle, about 8 to 8.5 feet. Their weight may range from 8 to 14 pounds. You might have seen this eagle as the national symbol of America

The immature young of a bald eagle does look similar to the golden eagle. However, when they mature, their distinguishable features set them apart. From their golden beaks and feet to their white head and tails, their body has a set of tones that is quite different. As for their body, it is covered in feathers that are the same dark shade of brown as others. 

This species of eagle is mainly found in North America, from Florida all the way over to Alaska. Their population has seen a decline recently due to the use of pesticides. However, now they are found abundantly near water, where they are mainly hunting for fish. Due to their adaptation near the waters, their eyesight is capable of seeing within the water and hunting the fish that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye. 

4. Steller’s Sea Eagle

Steller's sea eagle
The Steller’s sea eagle lives near water and feeds on fish, crabs, shellfish, ducks, and even squids.


These eagles are not mainly found in America. However, you might find one by accident near Alaska due to it wandering off while flying. Their distinctive feature has to be the beak that is yellow in color but resembles that of a toucan. The upper side of its wings has a white layer of feathers and a white tail. However, the rest of its body is covered in dark brown feathers. 

As the name suggests, it mainly resides near water and hunts for fish, crabs, shellfish, ducks, and even squids! Their wingspan stretches up to 8 feet which comes quite near to the largest hunting birds in the world. Unfortunately, their population is on the verge of being vulnerable because of the human infiltration of water bodies.

They are the heaviest birds in the world which is why these eagles appear bulky in weight. On average, they may weigh up to 21 pounds. This is probably because they will eat anything that is in their sight. Sometimes, it does not even matter what the nature of their prey is, as long as it is under water or near water. 

5. White-Tailed Eagle

White-tailed eagle
The white-tailed eagle can be found around coastal areas and feeds primarily on sea animals.


This species of eagle is similar to the Steller’s sea eagle. It is not situated in the United States but is more of a traveler that may find its way to Alaska from Russia

They resemble the bald eagle in their physical attributes. However, they do not have white patches of feathers as the bald eagle carries on its body. Their wingspan on average can reach 5 feet 10 inches to 8 feet. The smaller males may weigh 6.8 to 11.9 pounds and larger females typically can weigh 8.8 to 15.2 pounds. They are found near water bodies and around coastal areas where they can hunt and nest with ease.

They do not have much of a preference when it comes to food. They will eat whatever is in front of them. Their diet mainly consists of sea animals, but may expand to birds and even small mammals. 

Interesting Facts About Eagles

  • Eagles prefer staying at high altitudes, taking long lanes of air travel. 
  • They are not only powerful hunters, but they might be sometimes aggressive too. They will do everything they can to get to their food source, no matter the prey’s size. 
  • They do not use their wings much for flying long distances. Rather, they take help from the winds and turbulence. 
  • Since eagles prefer high altitudes, the only time they are found on the ground is when they are weak. So they hide and pluck their feathers out until a new batch of feathers grows, giving them the strength they need to fly. 

Summary of 5 Largest Eagles Found in the United States

Here’s a recap of the five biggest eagles present in the U.S. that we took a close look at:

1Harpy EagleWingspan: up to 6.5 feet; weight: 9-20 lbs
2Golden EagleWingspan: 7 feet; weight: 7-13 lbs
3Bald EagleWingspan: 8-8.5 feet; weight: 8-14 lbs
4Steller’s Sea EagleWingspan: up to 8 feet; weight: up to 21 pounds
5White-Tailed EagleWingspan: up to 8 feet; weight: up to 15 pounds

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

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