As a photographer, capturing the beauty of nature is always a thrilling experience. That’s why I was thrilled to capture an Immature Bald Eagle at Charleston Lake in Arkansas. These young birds of the species Haliaeetus leucocephalus are distinguishable from adult Bald Eagles by their mottled brown and white plumage.

Bald Eagles are iconic birds of prey in North America, known for their striking white head, dark brown body, and sharp talons. While adult Bald Eagles inspire awe, immature Bald Eagles are equally captivating with their unique appearance.

Immature Bald Eagle

Immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus-leucocephalus)

The distinctive white head, dark brown body, and pointed talons of the Bald Eagle make it one of the most recognizable birds of prey in North America. Although adult Bald Eagles are magnificent, young Bald Eagles have a distinct appearance of their own.

Appearance of Immature Bald Eagles

Immature Bald Eagles lack the distinctive white head and tail feathers that set them apart from adult Bald Eagles. Instead, they have feathers that are a mix of white and brown, giving them a mottled appearance. Their heads are a mixture of brown and white, while the brown feathers on their bodies are streaked with white. These juvenile birds stand out from adult Bald Eagles thanks to their yellow eyes and beak.

Growing into Adulthood

As the years pass, a young Bald Eagle undergoes a remarkable transformation, evolving from a mottled brown and white bird into the proud, white-headed and tailled mature eagle we all know and admire. This metamorphosis, referred to as “ascent,” takes about five years and involves a gradual shift in both physical and behavioral traits. Watching the white feathers on its head and tail grow more and more prominent, while the brown feathers on its body fade into the background, is a testament to the natural beauty and power of this magnificent bird.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: RF 800mm F11 IS STM


  • Location: Charleston City Lake (Arkansas)
  • Date and Time Taken: January 15, 2023 (09:39 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11 (Fixed)
  • Shutter speed: 1/2500
  • ISO: 1000 (Auto)
  • Focal Length: 800 mm (Fixed)