Bald Eagles in Yellowstone

If you’re looking to get a close-up look at America’s national symbol, Yellowstone National Park is a great place to do it.

Bald eagles are often spotted soaring through the skies, especially around lakes and rivers, so don’t forget to look up when hiking and driving through the park.

Adult bald eagles (those 5 years and older) are large, dark birds with a head and tail that are completely white. They stand 30-45 inches tall, with the females being slightly larger than their male counterparts. Eagles less than 5 years old, called “immatures,” have a dark brown to black body with whitish linings on the undersides of their wings. They will acquire the signature “bald” head as white feathers take the place of darker feathers with each molting.

Bald eagles are members of the raptor (bird of prey) family, and they typically eat fish, waterfowl, rodents and small mammals. Bald eagles will also scavenge on elk and bison carcasses.

Bald eagle feeding on a lake trout on Lewis Lake in Yellowstone. Photo by NPS Jim Peaco
Bald eagle feeding on a lake trout on Lewis Lake in Yellowstone. NPS Jim Peaco

Eagles on Endangered List 1980s to 2007

Researchers began studying Yellowstone’s bald eagle population in the 1980s when the bird was put on the federal list of endangered species. Monitoring continues even though the bird was removed from the list in 2007. Scientists estimate that between 40 and 60 percent of nests produce eggs with each nesting pair producing .71 eaglets.

Where to See Bald Eagles in Yellowstone

Where to look for bald eagles depends on the season. Hayden Valley and Madison River are great places to see eagles all year round, whereas Yellowstone Lake is a great spot in the summer months and the Gardiner River is a good place to look during the colder winter months.

Bald eagle in Yellowstone. Photo by NPS
Bald eagle in Yellowstone. NPS
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle. Jeff Vanuga