Ever Heard a Bald Eagle on TV? It's Not a Bald Eagle

Red-Tailed Hawk
The red-tailed hawk is a common raptor in North America. Tim Lenz

You may think you're familiar with the high, shrill scream of the bald eagle. After all, you've watched television and movies. You've seen them sweep across the screen while making that mighty call. Even if you live nowhere near bald eagles, you may hear what you think is their call while out on the hiking trail, in your backyard, or even in an urban park.

But here's the deal. Whenever you watch a gorgeous bald eagle soar across the television screen and you hear its familiar call, what you're really hearing is the call of the red-tailed hawk.

Yep, the much smaller and more ubiquitous red-tailed hawk has a mightier voice than its larger cousin, the bald eagle. For that reason, Hollywood has dubbed over the call of the bald eagle with that of the red-tailed hawk to toughen up the symbol of America.

Here's the sound bald eagles actually make when talking to each other:

And here's the call of the red-tailed hawk, which likely sounds much more familiar to you:

So, next time you watch a bald eagle on the screen and get a little chill from that high, strong scream, you can thank your neighboring red-tailed hawk for providing it.