The eagle is a beautiful animal and the bald eagle is the symbol of the United States. Long known for its majesty and elegance, few people know much about what an eagle eats and the types of habitats it is therefore likely to live in. This short explanation will allow you to understand the eating habits of eagles better and will let you know where you would be likely to find them. As with any creature, if you know what it likes to eat then you will know where it is most likely to find them.
Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax) eating a rat at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane, Australia. © James Niland.
There is a variety of eagles
There are different types of eagles, of course, but the majority of the ones that you will run across will live close to a water source. Why do they do this? Because they eat fish! In fact, for the types of eagles that live close to water, the diet is almost all fish. They are able to get them by swooping down and actually go into the water to catch them in their strong talons.
How about eagles that don’t live near water?
For those eagles that don’t live near a major water source, other small animals will comprise part of their diet. Like the hawk, they will take many smaller animals such as mice and squirrels for food. Other things that they enjoy include turtles and snakes. Because they are great at eating what many humans consider pests, they are handy to have in farming communities. Be careful, however, as they have been known to take small pets as food at times.
The bald eagle’s diet
A golden eagle feeding on a red fox, Nasavrky, Czech Republic. © Bohus Cicel.
These majestic birds will eat anything that is meat, mainly fish and, surprisingly, they will eat at any and every opportunity they can. You may wonder why, but it makes sense if you think about it. They may have trouble finding food from one day to the next and therefore they are always trying to make sure they eat when they can.
You never know when you may find your next meal!
This is why you often see eagles soaring through the air. They are not merely out for a fun flight but are instead looking for food. Even though they don’t have to eat every single day, it is important to try as they can become very tired and weak very quickly. If this happens it makes it more difficult to find food later, so a constant search for food is the way they ensure there is always enough for them.
What happens if they cannot find a meal?
In extreme cases, they will do what many other birds that eat meat do, they will eat dead things. Finding dead animals and eating them might not be an eagle’s first choice, but if it is between doing this or starving they will of course choose to eat these dead animals they come across.
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