Do Eagles Have Hair? (Explained)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

I’m sure at one point in your life or another you have heard the word Bald eagles and wondered exactly why since we see white tufts on them all over their head.

Eagles however do not have hair as those tufts are feathers which cover their bodies.

Unlike us humans and some other mammals, eagles just like other birds have follicles on their skin and these follicles help produce feathers seen on the birds.

This article will explain whether eagles have hair, the uses of their feathers, why the bald eagle is called bald and how far an eagle can fly without stopping. 

Do Eagles Have Hair?

Do Eagles Have Hair

As we have established above, eagles do not have hair like humans.

Like most birds they have feathers which cover their bodies and these feathers help them to navigate the world and protect them from the elements.

Feathers, although light in weight, provide a strong covering for birds.

They keep the birds warm in cold weather and they also help them in flying, especially to lift off from the ground, soar and glide in the air.

Some birds like the whistling swan have about 25,000 feathers.

The eagle has about 7,000 feathers and the strongest feathers are the wing feathers which the eagle uses for flying, flapping and landing. 

Do Eagles Have Feathers?

Yes, like all other birds eagles have feathers which they use for flying and use to cross.

Feathers are made from keratin just like the claws and feet scales. The feathers grow from skin follicles the same way we humans grow hair from our skin.

The feather is tightly anchored to the skin because the skin tightly grips the feather cone or butt end and this holds down the feathers and helps control their movement. 

This is evidenced when you try to pull feathers from a bird, a popular example is when you kill a chicken and you are trying to remove the feathers.

They are strongly held to the skin and you have to exert some pressure to pull it out. 

In living birds, pulling out or breaking a feather causes them pain and can cause blood to trickle from the spot.

They don’t usually grow back the feathers till they molt. Molting is the process of replenishing an eagle’s plumage by shedding old feathers and replacing them with new ones. 

A young eagle can through the process of molting several times before reaching full maturity.

Molting is important to help the bird’s feathers remain strong and be able to protect it from the elements.

Molting can be partial where the bird loses a few feathers at a time or more extensive.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on eagles being spirit animals

What Are The Uses Of Their Feathers?

An eagle has over 7,000 feathers which help them in flight and also help to protect them from rain and cold. 

The eagle has it’s down feathers for insulation.

Those feathers are a set of soft fine feathers found under the tougher topmost feathers.

The down feathers work to trap air and insulate the eagles against cold and also protect them from rain.

The eagle’s feathers are also important during flight for liftoff and when flapping their wings.

The primary feathers are on the wing tail and can be spread out to reduce drag while flying. 

The secondary feathers can be moved to reduce drag and also make the wing thicker in front for faster air flow.

Why Is It Called Bald Eagle?

The bald eagle is not bald in actual reality as they are typified by white tufts of  feathers over their heads.

The word bald actually comes from an Old English ‘balde’ or ‘pie-bald’ which means white headed.

The bald eagle is usually brown in color with a striking white head and white tail.

Most bald eagles do not usually develop these features till they are about 5 years of age.

As eaglets they are mostly black in color and go through different plumage changes till they reach maturity. 

Bald eagles are of the Sea eagle species.

The scientific name – Haliaeetus leucocephalus which comes from Greek literally means; hali for salt, aeetus for eagle, leuco for white and cephalis for head.

When translated it means White-headed sea eagle and the bald eagle is the only type of sea eagle native to North America.

Bald eagles typically live near rivers and fresh water where they can easily obtain fish as that is their primary diet. .

Are All Eagles Bald?

No all eagles are not bald. In fact the bald eagle itself is not bald as the word comes from ‘pie-bald’ in Old English which means ‘White-headed’.

There are over 70 species of eagles the world over and the bald eagle is a type of Sea eagle.

The bald eagle is a White sea eagle and has two subspecies which are native to the USA. 

There are various other eagle species such as the golden eagle,  snake eagles, bateleurs, harpy eagles, Steller’s sea eagles, the white-bellied eagle to mention a few.

More than half of the over 70 species of eagles are considered to be either critically endangered, vulnerable or near threatened.

There has been a serious decline in eagle population in the past century due to human activities. Loss of habitats and lead poisoning are the major factors. 

In some countries like the USA eagles are protected with federal laws and it is considered illegal to harass, scare or shoot an eagle.

Also check out this article on why do eagles pant

How Do Eagles Fly Without Flapping Their Wings?

Have you ever seen eagles gliding around in circles and wondered how they easily do this without flapping their wings regularly. 

What they do is they use thermals which are rising columns of warm air or updrafts which come up when the wind blows over hills or mountain ridges. 

Eagles are known for being able to soar for long periods without having to flap.

There is an advantage to this flying style as it saves them energy and all they have to do is use rising air currents to gain elevation in the air. 

They often use the soaring method when they have to go for long journeys, for example during migration. This way they are able to cover longer distances utilising just little energy.

How Far Can An Eagle Fly Without Stopping

The duration of time an eagle can fly without stopping can be affected by a number of factors which include; the time of year, the purpose of the flight (whether it’s for migration purposes), availability of prey, weather conditions and the age of the eagle.

During wintering and breeding periods, flight durations are shorter as the eagles would not want to go far from their nest and younglings.

Also, if there is abundant prey close to the nest site, the eagles do not have to go far before they get food.

Older eagles would not be able to fly for long without getting tired as it takes considerable energy to flap their wings.

For eagle species that migrate, during these periods they can fly long periods as much as 130 miles or more without stopping.

During these periods, they can soar for hours gliding on the currents and this saves them much energy as they do not have to flap their wings much.


Eagles do not have hair like humans, their bodies are covered with feathers which grow out of their skin follicles.

These feathers are firmly anchored to the skin of the eagle. The eagle uses the feathers for flight and to protect itself from cold.

It goes through a process called molting to replenish its feathers.

The bald eagle is a Sea white eagle native to the USA that got its name from the old word ‘piebald’ which means white headed. There are over 70 species of eagles all over the world. 

The eagle is known for gliding in the air without having to flap its wings, this is possible by remaining in thermals or wind updrafts which lifts the bird up and helps it gain altitude.

The soaring enables the eagles to fly for hours without getting tired and they can cover over 130 miles per day in this way.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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