Bald Eagle Grabs a Large Fish Out of the Water and Sticks It With Razor Sharp Talons

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Written by Chris Madden

Updated: November 10, 2023

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American bald eagle with wings spread and perched on branch against background of Alaskan Kenai region shoreline along Cook Inlet
© FloridaStock/

Bald Eagle Snags a Fish and Bounces Back Into the Sky!

In the breathtaking video below, watch the magnificent bald eagle display its awe-inspiring hunting skills. Soaring majestically against a serene lake backdrop, the eagle spots a shimmering fish just beneath the water’s surface.

With unparalleled precision, it performs a lightning-fast dive, plunging its sharp talons into the water, firmly grasping the unsuspecting fish. Emerging from the water as the video below continues, immense wings catching the air as it takes flight once more.

In an astonishing display of aerial mastery, the eagle grips the fish tightly with one talon. All the while, expertly readjusting the other to swiftly dispatch the catch, ensuring a relatively humane conclusion to its hunt. As the eagle ascends higher into the sky, its instinctive aerodynamic prowess is unveiled. It tucks its talons securely against its tail, positioning the captured fish behind it to minimize air resistance.

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The breathtaking sequence in the footage captured below highlights the raw beauty of nature and the bald eagle’s remarkable adaptation for survival, leaving viewers in absolute wonder and admiration for this majestic bird of prey.

How Do Bald Eagles Hunt Fish in the Coastal Waters?

Bald Eagle Vancouver Island Canada

Three Bald Eagles clash in a fury of sharp talons and huge wings on a rocky coastline!

©Greens and Blues/

Bald eagles, with their remarkable hunting prowess, are expert fish catchers. Strong and sharp talons equip bald eagles, serving as essential tools for capturing fish. As visible in the video below, these talons are what allow bald eagles to drag their considerable prey out of the water! When hunting, they soar high above the water, scanning the surface for potential targets. Once they spot a fish, they adjust their flight trajectory and prepare to dive. During the dive, the eagle extends its legs forward, aiming for the water’s surface. As it reaches the target, it extends its talons, and with incredible speed and precision, it snatches the fish from the water. The talons firmly grasp the slippery prey, ensuring a successful catch.

The Extraordinary Vision of a Bald Eagle is Nothing Short of Superhuman!

The bald eagle’s eyesight is nothing short of extraordinary. Their vision is estimated to be around four times better than that of a human with perfect ‘20/20’ vision. This keen eyesight allows them to spot fish from impressive distances, sometimes up to two miles away! This exceptional visual acuity enables the eagle to identify potential prey even in challenging lighting conditions and from great heights, giving it a significant advantage when searching for food. 

While bald eagles do not have specific adaptations for seeing underwater, their excellent eyesight allows them to spot fish swimming close to the water’s surface. Their ability to accurately judge the distance and location of the fish from above plays a crucial role in the success of their fishing ability. 

In summary, the bald eagle’s fishing techniques rely on the combination of its powerful talons and incredible eyesight. With a precise and agile dive, it uses its talons to secure its aquatic prey, and its exceptional vision helps it spot fish from high in the sky, making it a highly proficient and skilled hunter in its natural aquatic habitats.

An american bald eagle flies off with a fish on Coeur d'Alene Lake in Idaho.

A stunning bald eagle flies low over the water with a fish in its talon, still dripping from the water it was torn from!

©Gregory Johnston/

What Does a Bald Eagle’s Diet Consist Of?

The bald eagle, as one of North America’s most iconic raptors, boasts a diverse and impressive diet. As a top-of-the-food-chain predator, its menu predominantly comprises fish, resulting in the considerable fishing skills we can see below. Lakes, rivers, and coastal waters become its hunting grounds, where it skillfully scans for fish near the water’s surface. Its powerful eyesight aids in spotting prey from astonishing distances, enabling it to swoop down with precision and snatch fish from the water with its sharp talons.

However, the bald eagle is also an opportunist, and its diet isn’t limited to fish alone. In addition to seafood, it readily supplements its meals with waterfowl, such as ducks and geese. These birds can be caught while swimming or during flight, demonstrating the eagle’s adaptability and aerial hunting prowess.

Furthermore, carrion (the meat of already dead animal carcasses) plays a crucial role in the bald eagle’s diet. It is not averse to scavenging and will gladly feast on the remains of animals that have already met their demise. In this manner, the bald eagle plays a vital role in the ecosystem by cleaning up carrion, thus helping to maintain the balance of nature.

The bald eagle’s versatile diet showcases its adaptability and resourcefulness, making it a highly successful and formidable predator across various habitats in its vast North American range. Whether it’s gracefully plucking fish from the water or efficiently scavenging the bald eagle’s diet exemplifies its status as a symbol of strength and majesty in the natural world.

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About the Author

Chris is a lifelong animal lover with a passion for writing and a natural tendency to explore the internet in pursuit of new wildlife and nature facts! He is completing his Bachelors in Political Science at Concordia University in the Spring of 2024 after a science-centric high school career. Aside from studying and writing for A-Z Animals, he has a budding music career and enjoy spending time outside year-round, from swimming to skiing!

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