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What Does a Bald Eagle Eat?

The bald eagle, the symbol of the United States is an interesting raptor that is generally found near large water bodies. Technically, it’s not bald. It simply has a white head that is a sharp contrast to its brown body, save for the whitetail and yellow beak. This bird of prey depends on its rather excellent eyesight to keep its belly full.

So, what does a bald eagle eat? Since it is mainly found near large water bodies such as the ocean or the lake, its major source of food is fish. But this bird isn’t a fussy eater. Whatever small animal catches its eye, it will swoop in for the kill. It will enjoy small animals such as raccoons, prairie dogs, rabbits, squirrels, waterfowls, and chinchillas. The bald eagle will also have no trouble stealing from other birds or animals.

It will lay in wait on a strategic perch and watch out for any opportunity to feed. Thanks to its sharp talons, it can easily snatch and kill its prey. Bald eagles are never far from its food supply which is why their nesting sites can be found near coastlines, large lakes, or rivers. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old tree, dead tree, cliff, or any artificial structure such as communication towers, as long as they maintain their line of sight with the water body and potentially their prey, it is good.

For a bird that can spot and snatch a rabbit, you may be wondering how much weight can a bald eagle carry to be able to lift off into the sky again. The bald eagle can comfortably carry prey that is a few pounds heavier than it is. And if it has to, it will drag its prey to where it can feed. For example, if it catches a heavier fish, it will waddle through the water with it till it can enjoy it.

Depending on its weight, a bald eagle can carry anywhere from 5 to 6 pounds of prey off flat ground.

As for the bird’s weight. Its area of residence will determine how much it weighs. Generally speaking, the bald eagles from the northern parts of their range tend to weigh more than their southern counterparts. The bald eagles found in Alaska weigh more than those found in Canada, northern Mexico, or North America.

The average adult weighs 14 pounds. However, the largest, which are generally found in Alaska, can weigh as much as 17 or even 18 pounds. The female bald eagle weighs more than the male one.

Their eating habits depend on food availability. If there is plenty of food, the bald eagle tends to eat as often as possible. According to researchers, an adult eagle can consume up to 1 pound of food per day. In times of scarcity, its crop comes in handy. It has a stomach the size of a walnut. However, it is capable of eating up to 1/3 of its body weight and storing the food in its crop so it doesn’t starve later.

A bald eagle can fly as high as 10,000 feet and when it spots its prey, it will swoop down at breakneck speed to capture and enjoy.  In essence, excellent eyesight, flying speed, and sharp talons come in handy for this predator.

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