Most birders think of Bald Eagles as holding their wings flat when they soar, and they do, of course, and almost always hold their wings flat or slightly bowed when gliding. However, they do soar with their wings slightly raised in a dihedral at times (see composite image). Remember (and this is something I have repeated for a long time), there are exceptions to every rule, so next time you are trying to identify a large soaring bird and it shows a slight dihedral, don’t eliminate Bald Eagle so quickly! Check out other traits, such as overall shape and flight style, before using a single trait to make an ID. Hey, a big black bird with a white head and tail is a no-brainer adult Bald Eagle, but it’s not always that easy, especially when Bald Eagles have a juvenile and sub-adult plumages.
This post was written by Jerry Liguori. You can read more about Jerry and his legacy at HawkWatch International here.