What Do Bald Eagles Eat?

November 1, 2017
1 min read

Bald eagles are opportunistic feeders and tend to prey on a wide variety of birds and animals. However, the primary diet of these eagles consists of many different kinds of fish. Some of the common fish species on the menu of bald eagles are salmon, catfish, shad, herring and trout.

Bald eagles often scavenge for carrion and catches of other animals and raptorial birds. Thus, not only do they hunt by themselves, but they also steal food from other raptors like Osprey.

What Kind of Fish Do Bald Eagles Eat?

Bald eagles like to eat various types of fish, which forms virtually 70 to 90 percent of the intake of these eagles. Bald eagles of the Pacific Northwest prefer to feed on salmon and trout. In southeast Alaska, such eagles prey mainly on silver salmon, humpback salmon, red salmon and king salmon. The other fish species that readily fall prey to such eagles are sand lance, candlefish and Pacific herring.

Off the Pacific Northwest in the Colombia River Estuary, the bald eagles largely prey on American shad, European carp and  the largescale suckers. The most important diet of the bald eagles inhabiting along the estuaries of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay comprises threadfin shad, silver bass and gizzard shad.

Bald eagles like to eat various types of fish, which forms virtually 70 to 90 percent of the intake of these eagles.

The eagles of Florida eat species of horned pout or brown bullhead, Long Tom, grey mullets, eels, trout and fish species from the genus of freshwater catfishes named Ictaluridae.

What do Bald Eagles eat in the wild?

In addition to the fish, the next most important prey of these eagles is waterbirds. Some of the most favorite avian birds of bald eagles include herons, grebes, gulls, egrets, alcids, geese, coots and ducks.

Besides, they also like to feed on invertebrates (crabs), amphibians, reptiles and other small mammals.

Among mammals, the animals include rabbits, muskrats, ground squirrels, deer fawns, hares, raccoons, ground hogs, beavers and prairie dogs.

In reptiles, turtles are probably the most preferred diet of such eagles. Among turtles, common snapping turtles, terrapin and eastern musk turtle. Snakes may also become occasional diet of these eagles.

Bald eagles also forage for leftovers by other predators like red foxes, brown bears, herons, otters and gray wolves. Some of the raptors that fall prey to bald eagles are American black vultures, turkey buzzard, ospreys and red-tailed hawks.


“Eagle Diet & Feeding”. NATIONAL EAGLE CENTER

“Bald Eagle”. All About Birds – The Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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