Identifying bald eagles is really simple. They’re very large raptors with broad wings and dark-brown bodies contrasting with their white heads and tails. But, you may find some other raptors around you, looking pretty similar to bald eagles, which may confuse you.
So, the question is, “which birds look like eagles?” Bald eagle look-alike birds are red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, western ospreys, prairie falcons, cooper’s hawks, black kites, northern goshawks, black vultures, ferruginous hawks, and eagle species, like golden eagles.
Want to learn about some crane look-alike birds? I have recently published an article on similar species to sandhill cranes. Once you finish reading here, you’ll be welcomed to take a look at that article. You may find such bird species that you didn’t know before.
Now, let’s see the list of bald eagle look-alike birds below.
Birds That Look Like Bald Eagles
1. Red-Tailed Hawk
Red-tailed hawks are one of the raptors in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. These birds are legally protected by law under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They’re usually found in agricultural fields, urban areas, deserts, deciduous forests, coniferous, and grasslands.
- Red-tailed hawks are rich-brown.
- They have mostly pale underwings with dark patagial marks.
- They have short, dark, hooked beaks.
- Adults have broad, cinnamon-red tails.
- Their heads are brown with slightly white throats.
Both red-tailed hawks and bald eagles are raptors. These birds are quite confusing when they’re in flight. Besides, other noticeable similarities are heavy bodies, hooked beaks, and flat wings in the flight. While bald eagles have yellow beaks, red-tailed hawks have a yellow patch on the beaks. So, they’re confusing from afar.
When it comes to physical differences, red-tailed hawks have brown heads and red tails, but bald eagles have white heads and white tails. When they’re on the ground, you can notice that bald eagles are much larger than red-tailed hawks.
02. Turkey Vulture
Turkey vultures, also known as turkey buzzards or just buzzards in some North American regions, are found in open areas, including suburbs, roadsides, countryside, landfills, farm fields, dead trees, fence posts, and construction sites. They’re also called John crows or carrion crows in some Caribbean regions.
- Turkey vultures have dark brown plumage.
- They have long, broad wings with grey flight feathers.
- They have featherless bright red heads.
- They have pale, hooked beaks.
- Their legs are short, pale, and their feet have sharp nails.
Turkey vultures have dark brown plumage, almost the same as bald eagles have. Both birds have hooked beaks to catch prey. Besides, turkey vultures have similar types of short legs and sharp-nailed feet. They look quite similar to bald eagles when they’re in flight.
In terms of appearance, turkey vultures have red heads and white beaks, while bald eagles have white heads and yellow beaks. In addition, bald eagles have bright white tails, clearly visible when they’re in flight. On the other hand, the tails of turkey vultures are pale black.
03. Western Osprey
Western ospreys, also known as sea hawks and fish hawks, are fish-eating birds found in temperate and tropical regions of North America, particularly Alaska, California, and Florida. These raptors usually prefer saltmarshes, ponds, rivers, estuaries, and reservoirs.
- Western ospreys have brown backs and wings with white underparts.
- They have white heads with a broad brown line through the eyes.
- They have a marked kink in their wings visible when in flight.
- They have black, strongly hooked beaks.
- Their bodies are slender, and the wings are long, narrow.
Both western ospreys and bald eagles are raptors, although western ospreys only eat fish. In terms of appearance, western ospreys have white heads and strongly hooked beaks similar to bald eagles. Both species also have long wings.
Western ospreys are whiter than most other raptors in North America. However, these birds have narrower wings than those of bald eagles. While bald eagles have completely white heads, western ospreys have a mix of brown and white on their heads.
04. Prairie Falcon
Prairie falcons are medium-large-sized birds mostly found in the western United States, southern Canada, and northern Mexico. These birds prefer wide-open habitats, including prairies, plains, deserts, sagebrush, alpine meadows, and agricultural lands.
- Prairie falcons have brown plumage above with brownish spotting on the underparts.
- They have long, sharply pointed wings and yellow legs and feet.
- They have short, sharply hooked beaks with yellow skin around.
- They have a white line over eyes, pale cheeks, and narrow mustache stripes.
- Females are noticeably bigger than males.
Prairie falcons have short, hooked beaks as bald eagles have. These birds also have short, yellow legs and feet, almost the same as bald eagles. Both species have similar types of head shape and flight style. They also come up with sharp nails to catch their prey.
In terms of body size, prairie falcons are much smaller than bald eagles. While prairie falcons have a mix of white and pale brown plumage on their heads, bald eagles have completely white heads. Besides, the overall plumage of bald eagles is much browner than that of prairie falcons.
05. Andean Condor
Andean condors are commonly found in the Andes Mountains, the Santa Marta Mountains, and adjacent Pacific coasts of western South America. These birds prefer relatively open, non-forested areas. They’re also available in meadows and cliffs for nesting and roosting in winter.
- Andean condors have all dark black plumage overall.
- They have a frill of white feathers at the base of the neck.
- They have nearly featherless, red to blackish red heads with a dark red comb crown.
- The beaks are short and sharply hooked, and there are no eyelashes.
- Males have large white patches on the wings.
Andean condors come in almost the same size as bald eagles. Both birds of prey have short, sharply hooked beaks, although the beaks of bald eagles are larger. Like bald eagles, Andean condors have short legs and sharply-nailed feet to catch prey.
The most noticeable difference between Andean condors and bald eagles is their distinctive appearance. Bald eagles have a white head and neck, but Andean condors have a strange-looking head with a white neck collar. Besides, you can find differences in their beaks and legs.
06. Black Kite
Black kites medium-sized birds mostly found in the temperate and tropical parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. According to the name, black kites are not black overall. However, when they’re high in flight, they look like black kites.
- Black kites have brown plumage above with black outer flight feathers.
- They have yellow cere, black hooked beaks, and a long wingspan.
- They have yellow legs and black claws.
- They appear a bit darker due to the patch behind the eyes.
- Females are a bit larger than males.
In terms of appearance, the heads, necks, beaks, and eyes of black kites are pretty similar to those of bald eagles. In addition, black kites also have look-alike legs and claws. Like bald eagles, the legs of black kites are short and yellow.
Although both black kites and bald eagles have brown plumage, the feathers of bald eagles are much shaggier. While bald eagles have entirely yellow beaks, black kites have black beaks with a yellow cere. These birds also have a dark patch behind their eyes.
07. Northern Goshawk
Northern goshawks are usually found in the northeastern and western United States, western Canada, Alaska, and Western Europe. These birds breed in many large mountain ranges, including the Rocky Mountains. They prefer wild forests, like coniferous and deciduous areas.
- Northern goshawks are stocky raptors with a slate grey cap.
- They have a barrel chest and a finely-barred grey belly.
- They have rounded orange to red eyes and white eyebrows.
- They have long tails, broad wings, and hooked beaks.
- Adults look pale below with white underparts in flight.
Both northern goshawks and bald eagles are birds of prey. The most noticeable similarity between these birds is that both species have sharply hooked beaks. Besides, northern goshawks have yellow legs and sharp claws, just like bald eagles.
While bald eagles have smooth plumage, northern goshawks have a barrel chest and a finely-barred grey belly. In addition, bald eagles have yellow eyes, but northern goshawks have orange to red eyes. Northern goshawks also have white eyebrows you won’t find in bald eagles.
8. Black Vulture
Black vultures, also known as American black vultures, are large raptors that range from the northeastern United States to South America. These birds are sometimes out there in Canada. They usually prefer open areas, but for nesting and roosting, they’re found in wooded areas.
- Black vultures are all black with some silvery patches under wingtips.
- They have very short and rounded tails.
- They have un-feathered, small, greyish-black heads and necks.
- They have short but strongly hooked, pale beaks.
- Their legs are white, and their claws are sharp.
Like bald eagles, black vultures have shaggy plumage throughout the body. These raptors also have short legs and sharp claws. Besides, they have bald eagle-like short but strongly hooked beaks. The tails of black vultures are short and rounded, almost the same as bald eagles have.
The most noticeable difference between these two species is that black vultures have entirely black plumage, while bald eagles have dark brown plumage with white heads and tails. In addition, the head feathers of bald eagles are slightly shaggy. On the other hand, black vultures have un-feathered heads and necks.
9. Northern Harrier
Northern harriers are mostly out there in the northern United States and the northern hemisphere in Canada. These birds breed in the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. They usually prefer open areas, such as marshes, prairies, grasslands, and crop fields.
- Northern harriers have overall greyish plumage with a white rump patch.
- They have long, broad wings and a long, rounded tail.
- They have owl-like faces and sharply hooked beaks.
- Adult males are pale with black wingtips.
- Adult females have brown streaks and whitish undersides.
Northern harriers are pretty similar to bald eagles in terms of sharply hooked beaks, short legs, and flight styles. Like bald eagles, these birds also have sharp claws to catch prey. Besides, the tails of northern harriers appear the same as those of bald eagles.
While northern harriers have greyish plumage, bald eagles have dark brown plumage with white head feathers. Apart from that, northern harriers have black beaks with a yellow cere, but bald eagles have entirely yellow beaks.
10. Golden Eagle
Golden eagles, one of the largest birds in North America, are mostly found in the western United States and Northern Hemisphere. These birds are usually out there in fairly open areas, including mountains, hills, cliffs, shrublands, grasslands, coniferous forests, farmland, and along streams and rivers.
- Golden eagles are all dark brown contrasting with the golden-brown nape.
- They have long wings with slight pale flight feathers.
- They have very large and strongly hooked beaks.
- Their heads are relatively small, and the tails are long.
- The legs are short, and the claws are sharp.
Golden and bald eagles belong to the same family Accipitridae. Golden eagles also have body structures, sharply hooked beaks, short legs, sharp claws, and relatively small heads, just like bald eagles. When in flight, both species look pretty similar from afar.
Although both species have dark brown plumage, golden eagles don’t have white head feathers like bald eagles. While golden eagles have black beaks, the beaks of bald eagles are yellow. When in flight, bald eagles appear whitish, but golden eagles look golden.
Now that you know the birds that look like eagles, you can easily identify bald and golden eagles and their look-alike birds. In appearance, golden eagles look pretty similar to bald eagles (except white head feathers), as both birds belong to the same eagle family.
However, other similar raptors, such as turkey vultures, western ospreys, prairie falcons, and Andean condors, can easily be identified due to their distinctive features. Among eagle look-alike birds, red-tailed hawks appear quite similar species to bald eagles.