Eagle Biology - Classification
Scientists classify birds according to their common traits. For
example, the bald eagle, a member of the genus Haliaeetus in the
Accipitridae family tree probably evolved from the the Asian and
Australasian kites of the genus Haliastru. Today, the Indian Brahminy
kite is probably the closest living link of the sea eagles to their
past ancestors. Sea eagles and kites share many common characteristics,
including fishing, scavenging, pirating of food, courtship displays,
and breeding habits.
The bird that we know as "The Bald Eagle" is called something
entirely different by scientists and orinthologists. To give an exact
description of a bird, its class, order, family, genus & species
should be given.
Common Name: Bald Eagle
Genus&Species: Haliaeetus (sea eagle) leucocephalus (white head)
The common name "bald eagle" does not refer to an absence of head
covering. Rather, the word "bald" comes from the early English word
balde which meant "white-headed."
Northern vs Southern Bald Eagles
Scientists used to believe that there were actually two sub-species
of the Bald Eagle: a Northern and a Southern variety. The Northern Bald
Eagle tended to live above the 40th parallel (colder climates) and were
larger than Southern Bald Eagles living below the 40th parallel.
However, scientists later discovered that the only difference between
the two species was their size.
In fact, the size of bald eagles gradually grew as the bird
was located further and further north. Bald eagles grew larger
beginning with the smallest found in Florida, middle-sized birds across
the middle of the country, and the largest bald eagles found in Alaska,
Canada , and northern states of the United States such as Washington
and New York. Therefore, the distinction between Southern and Northern
bald eagles is no longer mentioned in the scientific community.
However, many of the older research materials you encounter may still
make this distinction. Here is the scientific names for both the
Southern and Northern Bald Eagles:
Southern Bald Eagle: Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus
Northern Bald Eagle: Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanus