Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) with fish from Kodiak, Alaska. Photo by Yahin S Krishnappa, Creative Commons License.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) with fish from Kodiak, Alaska. Photo by Yahin S Krishnappa, Creative Commons License. 

Bald Eagle
Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  • Bright white head and tail.
  • Dark brown body and chest.
  • Up to 6.6 foot wingspan.
  • Juveniles (until age 5) are mottled brown and white.

Record Observations
Species Description:

The Bald Eagle, our national symbol, uses habitat along the entire Truckee River during winter and spring months, but moves to higher elevations during summer (breeding season) and fall, concentrating around Sierra Nevada lakes and reservoirs such as Tahoe, Donner, Stampede, Boca and Prosser (see eBird database).  Look for Bald Eagles perched high in trees overlooking the river or other water bodies.

Bald Eagle populations in the United States dropped drastically during the mid-to-late 1900s, due largely to exposure to a pesticide called DDT.  Bald Eagles were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1978, but populations began to recover after DDT use was banned in the United States.  Eagles were down-listed to “threatened” status in 1995, and delisted completely in 2007, having rebounded from approximately 400 nesting pairs in 1963 to over 10,000 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states (USFWS 2007).  According to the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Nevada (2007), Bald Eagles nested on Anaho Island during the 1860s, but were uncommon or absent from Nevada during most of the 19th and 20th centuries. Eagle nests are still extremely rare around the state, but Bald Eagle sightings are increasingly common.

Bald eagles are scavengers, and steal food from other birds such as Osprey and Great Blue Heron.  They prefer fish, but also eat waterfowl and carrion during the winter (Beedy & Pondolfino 2013).

Photos & Information needed!

Do you have information or original photographs of Bald Eagles from the Truckee River or nearby lakes and reservoirs?  If so, please contribute photos and observations here, or email information to Thanks!



Beedy, Edward C. and Pandolfino, Edward R. 2013. Birds of the Sierra Nevada. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Floyd, Ted; Elphic, Chris; Chisholm, Grant; Mack, Kevin; Elston, Robert; Ammon, Elisabeth; and John Boone.  2007. Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Nevada.  Reno: University of Nevada Press.

Knopf, Fritz L. and Roger M. Evans. 2004. American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Available at:

Ryser, Fred A. 1985. Birds of the Great Basin.  Reno: University of Nevada Press.

Sibley, David Allen.  2000.  The Sibley Guide to Birds.  Alfred A. Knopf; New York.

USFWS. 2013. Seasons of Wildlife, Anaho Island. Website, updated Aug 2013. Available at:


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  1. I have had three eagle sightings in the past few months. All three times were along the Truckee river. I will record more accurate info next time I see one.

    1. Thanks Katie — I’d love to know if you see more! I also need a good local photo for this page, if you happen to have a camera with you…

  2. Last year my sister and I saw a Bald Eagle flying along the Truckee river about 1 mile south of Alpine Meadows. Since then I always watch for them and this past weekend I spotted one! Perched on top of a tree along the opposite river bank about a mile south of Alpine.

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