In the Field

How Long do Eagles Live? Bald Eagle Facts

How long do eagles live? Bald Eagle Facts

In this blog article, we’re going to take a look at the life span of the mighty and majestic bald eagle and what their natural and unnatural causes of death are in the wild.

The lifespan of birds, in general, can vary quite a bit among the different species. Most common birds that you’d find in your backyard have a lifespan of around 2 to 5 years, whereas birds who commonly live in captivity, such as parrots, can live 50 to even 100 years. The bald eagle has an average lifespan of 20 to 25 years in the wild, with the oldest bald eagle on record reaching the ripe old age of 47. However, this old bird lived its life in captivity and was well taken care of. In the wild, many eagles don’t live out their entire lifespan, and only around 10% of bald eagles live the 4 to 5 years it takes for them to reach full maturity when they develop their characteristic white head.

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Bald eagles face many threats throughout their lives, some starting right before and after they hatch. Bald eagle eggs are targeted by crows, ravens, seagulls, and squirrels, and when the chicks do hatch, it’s common for sibling rivalries to take place resulting in one chick killing the other. Another common cause of death among young eagles is that of starving, which typically happens in their first year of life. That rather aggressive, fighting spirit of the bald eagle continues as they develop into juveniles who sometimes engage in mortal combat over a prized food source.

Eagles typically don’t have any natural predators in the wild, as they are among the top predators themselves, however, mature eagles will prey on each other at times, again often over a food source, and other large birds such as the great horned owl is known to attack eagles in order to chase them off of their nests so the owl can then use it as its own.

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A great horned owl with a fresh meal.

Among the unnatural causes of death that eagles face, some eagles die as a result of colliding with vehicles, especially when the eagle is feasting on roadkill, and eagles also commonly get electrocuted by powerlines or die from poisoning while scavenging trash. As our National bird, eagles are highly protected and there are stiff criminal penalties in place for those who endanger them, but they’re still sometimes intentionally poisoned or even shot by those who consider them a nuisance or a threat to their livelihood.

So there you have it, that’s an overview of the lifespan of the mighty and majestic bald eagle and the many threats they face. Check out the video below to see more…

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