Eagle Adaptations: The Tail

Click for labeled photo
photo: Ray Foster
An eagle's body is adapted for its fishing and scavenging lifestyle. Its tail helps with:

  • Balance in flight--the tail is long enough and wide enough to help balance the bird's head in flight
  • Surface area for soaring--the tail can widen to provide extra surface area, allowing thermals and updrafts to keep it aloft with little effort. See our lesson on flight.
  • Sturdy and short so when the bird hits water hard and fast while fishing, the tail won't be damaged and won't get in the way.
  • Helps other eagles see how mature this one is. The tail of a young bird is dark brown, and turns white when the bird becomes mature when at 4 - 6 years of age.

Photos: L. USFWS, M. Hugh Feiro, R. Ray Foster