In the Field

What Do Eagles Eat?

What Do Eagles Eat?

In this blog article, we’re going to be taking a look at the eating habits of the mighty and majestic bald eagle. Eagles are both scavengers and predators and while they eat a wide variety of foods, their diet is mostly that of a carnivore, preferring fish and meat as their main staple of nutrition. In situations where an eagle has a meal choice between fish and red meat, however, they will almost always go for fish, which makes up the majority of their diet. When living in coastal areas nearby the ocean, eagles feed heavily on fish such as herring, flounder, pollock, salmon, and crab. In freshwater habitats, eagles will go after pretty much any fish they can get their talons on. And, while eagles are hanging around the water looking for fish to catch, they will also prey heavily on migrating ducks and small geese, especially those that are wounded or who are easy to catch. Along with fish and waterfowl, eagles also hunt and eat a wide variety of small mammals and reptiles such as mice, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, snakes, and other similar sized critters.

There are many wild, sensational stories all over the internet of eagles carrying off and eating dogs, cats, mountain goats, and even small children. While eagles can and sometimes do prey on very small dogs and cats, as well as newborn or injured deer fawns, sheep, and goat calves, which is something I’ve personally seen while living on Kodiak Island, Alaska, most of those crazy stories you see on the internet are purely photoshopped works of fiction. Wildlife biologists believe that a bald eagle has a maximum lifting and carrying capacity of around four pounds…which is also heavily influenced by speed and momentum. So you generally don’t need to worry about a hungry eagle taking off with your pet or your child.

what do eagles eat
Eagles have a maximum lifting capacity of around four pounds.

 

When fresh, live food is in short supply, such as in the winter months, or, when an eagle comes across some tasty roadkill or garbage, they abandon their role as being a fearsome bird of prey, and turn into a vulture-like scavenger. This is also especially the case for young eagles who are not proficient hunters yet. If you’d like to see an incredible display of the eagle’s scavenger abilities, check out my eagle invasion videos below…

 

On average, bald eagles eat between ½ to a full pound of food a day, which comes out to between 219 to 365 pounds of food a year, but again, this also varies depending on where an eagle lives and how much energy it has to expend on hunting and carrying for it’s young. So that’s an overview of the diet and eating habits of the bald eagle. Check out the video below to see more on this topic…

 

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