Smaller eagles have occasionally been “domesticated” by falconers and were traditionally reserved for the hunting pleasure of medieval kings.
The American bald eagle, which has a wingspan of up to 7 feet and would therefore require a very large falconer, has been reliably reported to have lived for 30 years and 5 months in captivity at the National Zoo in Washington. One banded bird in the wild in Mexico lived 10 years and 5 months and might have lived much longer but was shot.
A bald eagle, formally Haliaeetus leucocephalus, does not even develop its distinctive white-feathered helmet until its fourth year. Before that, it goes through a series of immature plumages, which are wholly or partly replaced by a series of molts, or feather losses.
While the bald eagle’s head is not bald, but fully feathered, the legs are unfeathered, and the bare-legged look helps bird-watchers distinguish between immature bald eagles and immature golden eagles.