Post and photo by Skeeter Lasuzzo
Most people living in the Texoma area are not aware that Bald Eagles make their way to Lake Texoma and surrounding areas to spend the winter. I have also learned that some people believe all Bald Eagles have a white head and tail. Bald Eagles take up to 5 years to get the white head and tail that they will have throughout their mature lives. Over the last couple of weeks I have been fortunate to photograph Bald Eagles in two of the three different stages of their lives - from juvenile to approximately 2 years old. At one point, we were watching 4 eagles at one time. The image at right of the mature Bald Eagle was taken in the Tetons.
The juvenile Bald Eagles are all dark with the exception of white under wing coverts and white streaks on the tail. The immature eagle develops white patches on the belly and back after one year and additional white on the head and the yellow bill begin to develop after 2 or 3 years. Up until this point, the bill is mostly black.
The all white head and tail come with maturity after 4 to 5 years.
Ed. Note: The American Bald Eagle became a protected species in 1940. See http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/baldeagle.htm for more information on current legal status. Eagles have been seen at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge recently near the pad roads on both sides of Big Mineral Arm.
For more information about Hagerman NWR, please see http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/hagerman/index.html and activities and events of the Friends of Hagerman, see http://www.friendsofhagerman.com.