Haliaeetus leucocephalus

| 16 Comments

Photograph by David Young.

Bald-eagle-in-Grand-Teton-NP.jpg

Haliaeetus leucocephalus – bald eagle, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

16 Comments

Hairless eagle!

“leucocephalus” - extremely cool name (it means “white head”).

Embarrassing that I lived this long without ever noticing the scientific name for the bald eagle.

Wouldn’t that come out to be “white-headed sea eagle”?

I suppose that’s reasonably descriptive, although bald eagles can be very far from any sea.

Always a great bird to see, in any case, not just for the obvious reason today.

Glen Davidson

On a suitably significant day associated with the U.K., I will look forward to seeing a photograph of a lion facing a unicorn. For Mexico, another photo of an eagle, this time holding a snake. For China, a photograph of a dragon will suffice.

Ten days from now, post a rooster. I suppose a suitably colorful wild cock would do well enough.

I wonder what Ben Franklin would have thought if he knew the connotation that “turkey” has today?

Joe Felsenstein said:

On a suitably significant day associated with the U.K., I will look forward to seeing a photograph of a lion facing a unicorn.

4th November might be appropriate - Through the Looking Glass (wherein the Lion and the Unicorn appear) is set on that evening.

I would argue that a Dodo would be more appropriate for 4th July than an eagle. The Dodo is, of course, Lewis Carroll’s self-caricature in Alice in Wonderland, which originated with a boat trip on the Thames on 4th July 1862. This must be a much more significant event than some minor grumbling amongst the colonists. ((Large Smilie))

Kevin B said:

4th November might be appropriate - Through the Looking Glass (wherein the Lion and the Unicorn appear) is set on that evening.

Yes, but then we’d have to run a Jabberwocky and a Frumious Bandersnatch (somewhat rarer than the Common Bandersnatch, I am told).

Glen – yes, the name would come out to White-headed Sea Eagle. Most of the members of that genus are associated with water (even the Bald Eagle is, at least when it can find it). The name Sea Eagle probably comes from the European member, the White-tailed Sea Eagle.

The interpretation of the genus name Haliaeetus calls to mind the remark by J.B.S. Haldane that there were two traditions in theoretical population genetics, the Haleiutic and the Tectonic. The classically-educated Haldane chose these because Haleiutic refers to the activities of a fisher, and Tectonic refers to the activities of a wright.

A couple of years ago my wife and I went on a cruise up the inside passage to Alaska. There were Bald Eagles in the area, and the onboard naturalist told us to “Look for golf balls in the trees.” Sure enough, once we started doing that . … the eagles were abundant.

Great picture. Thanks for posting that.

I saw my first one of the these in the wild about a week ago. I was struck by how white and shining the tail was; with all name fuss (both English and Latin) about its head, I had quite forgotten about the tail. Very beautiful. It made me feel better about the US national bird not being the turkey.

When we went rowing on the lake yesterday, we had the good fortune to spot a pair nesting in a tree by the lake, and hunting for fish in the water. We also have a flock of wild turkeys in the woods in the neighborhood. Of the two, I prefer the eagles. ;-)

Scott F said: When we went rowing on the lake yesterday, we had the good fortune to spot a pair nesting in a tree by the lake, and hunting for fish in the water.

There are ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) in the neighborhood of my office, which has an adjacent five-acre lake. It’s amazing to see these big birds crash-dive into the water like a pelican and emerge with a fish in their 180-degree talons. They then fly around looking like a WWII torpedo bomber waiting for the fish to drown in the air and quit wiggling so they can perch in a tree and tear it to shreds.

When I was a kid, one of the last groups of bald eagles in the Lower 48 hung out along the river near my hometown. Our national symbol of courage, military power, or whatever made its living by scavenging rotting fish on the banks of the Mississippi.

We have some of those near where I live.

A few years ago, I was walking along the river and heard a loud splash. Usually that means an osprey out fishing.

It was a bald eagle wallowing in the water. They aren’t as graceful as the ospreys.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on July 4, 2011 12:00 PM.

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