Bald Eagle's Diet & Feeding habits
The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a member of the sea and fish eagle group. Its closest relatives, similar in appearance and habit, are found in Africa and Asia. Bald eagles live along the coast as well as by major lakes and rivers. Even though they are fish eaters, they will take ducks and birds or whatever prey is available and easiest to obtain. They fish in both fresh and salt water.
Because of their size, bald eagles sit at the top of their food chain. This makes them more vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment, since each link in the food chain tends to concentrate chemicals from the lower link.
A bald eagle's lifting power is about 4 pounds. They do not generally feed on chickens or other domestic livestock, but they will make use of available food sources. Bald eagles will take advantage of carrion (dead and decaying flesh), giving it a scavenger image, which causes some people to dislike eagles. Other people do not care for powerful and aggressive birds; while some object merely on the grounds that it is a bird of prey which kills other animals for food.
Once an eagle spots a fish swimming or floating near the water surface, it approaches its prey in a shallow glide and then snatches the fish out of the water with a quick swipe of its talons. Eagles can open and close their talons at will; although, a hungry eagle can be dragged into the water when refusing to release a heavy fish. Unfortunately, the eagle might drown during the encounter with the fish; eagles are strong swimmers, but if the water is very cold, the bird might be overcome by hypothermia.
The information and photos on this web site may be used for student projects as long as neither are placed on other websites. The photographs are copyrighted by Hope Rutledge, the owner and author of the American Bald Eagle Information website, and are NOT available for other websites, photo galleries or commercial use of any kind.