16 Fierce Predators that Eat Bald Eagles (…If They Can Catch Them)

Bald Eagle Vancouver Island Canada
© Greens and Blues/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nina Phillips

Updated: December 5, 2023

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Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), when fully grown adults, don’t have any other natural predators except for humans. They are fierce and hard enough to catch to make them not worth the effort for most animals. This means that the number of predators that eat bald eagles is rather low.

Bald Eagle Fishing

Did you know that bald eagles don’t have any natural enemies once they become adults? This means there aren’t many predators that eat them.

©Harry Collins Photography/Shutterstock.com

That doesn’t mean that bald eagles are unbeatable, however. They are still vulnerable at some point in their lives. When predators do catch bald eagles, they do so when the birds are still small chicks or even when they are eggs.

Some predators can catch a full-grown bald eagle, but it’s not often enough for them to be a common meal. Sometimes, the predator is just lucky and manages to catch this regal bird in a moment of weakness or when they aren’t paying attention. Eggs, young chicks, and injured bald eagles are the ones most in danger.

Keep reading to learn about the fierce predators that risk a mother’s wrath every time they decide to go after bald eagle chicks and eggs.

1. Humans (Homo sapiens)

Crowd of people walking street

Whether intentionally or not, people pose a huge threat to bald eagles.

©blvdone/Shutterstock.com

Humans are the biggest threat to bald eagles. The bad part is that a lot of the mortality people cause bald eagles is accidental. There are a few cases of gunshots a year, but that isn’t the leading cause. Collisions with cars, electrocution from power lines, and poisoning from rat killers are the main issues.

There are a few reasons humans would purposefully kill an eagle. In the 1900s, people killed bald eagles by the thousands because they were worried these agile birds would compete for fish.

Some parts of eagles are popular too. For example, bald eagle feathers and talons are highly in demand. Thankfully, killing a bald eagle for these reasons is illegal and results in a $100,000 fine. A second killing of a bald eagle counts as a felony. While people may still end up colliding with a bald eagle or accidentally causing them injury, purposeful deaths are low now.

These causes of death are about the only thing that commonly kills adult bald eagles. Occasionally another predator can get one if they are lucky, but it’s rare.

2. Raccoons (Procyon lotor)

Racoon growling

A raccoon will eat eggs of all shapes and sizes

©Vital9s/Shutterstock.com

Raccoons are a staple of bald eagle’s diets. They scoop up young raccoons while they are young and take them back to the nest to feed. However, it also works in reverse. When bald eagles are still in their eggs, raccoons won’t hesitate to eat bald eagle eggs. They may also eat young bald eagles, but it isn’t as common.

3. Black-Billed Magpies (Pica hudsonia)

magpie in flight

Black-billed magpies will eat just about anything they can get their hands on, including small birds and eggs.

©iStock.com/kojihirano

Bald eagles and black-billed magpies are often seen eating similar foods. They may fight for a particularly tasty morsel, or magpies might wait until eagles are done with their meal before eating the remaining scraps.

If a black-billed magpie is unlucky, they may even be the prey. But there are times when the black-billed magpie ends up the predator of bald eagles. Like raccoons, magpies enjoy eating eggs. They will also go for bald eagle chicks if they have the chance.

4. Eurasian Eagle Owls (Bubo bubo)

The Eurasian eagle-owl flying in the forest in the mountains low tatra

Eurasian eagle owls are one of the biggest owls in the world with wings often reaching over 6 feet.

©Jan_Broz/Shutterstock.com

Even though Eurasian eagle owls are known for taking down other large birds of prey, adult bald eagles are a bit too much for this bird. Their style is more ducks, grouse, and crows. However, an injured bald eagle or a young chick is fair game for a hungry owl.

5. Crows (Corvus)

A Murder of Crows

You can find crows messing with bald eagles quite often, but rarely do they win a fight.

©Elliotte Rusty Harold/Shutterstock.com

Sometimes, crows get cocky and take extra risks. When this happens, they are quick to get hunted down by bald eagles. But every once in a while, the crow will take a calculated risk. They’ll dive into a nest to eat young bald eagles or even get an egg. If it comes down to a fight, a crow may get the upper hand if the bald eagle is already injured or sick.

6. Bobcats (Lynx rufus)

bobcat

Both the bald eagle and bobcat are considered top predators.

©Victor Arita/Shutterstock.com

Bobcats will get their teeth around a bald eagle every time they get the chance. They can’t take on a full-grown bald eagle very often. Usually, instead, they compete for the same source of food.

A bobcat will become one of the predators that eat bald eagles when the opportunity arises, such as when an eagle is injured. They also sometimes eat chicks that fall out of their nest. And bald eagles that became roadkill are a particular favorite.

7. Black Bears (Ursus)

A Himalayan black bear is resting in a meadow. This large and strong mammal has the scientific name Ursus thibetanus laniger.

A black bear isn’t very picky about what they eat so long as it fills them up.

©I Wayan Sumatika/Shutterstock.com

As big as black bears are, they still aren’t one to take on an angry bald eagle. What they will do, though, is make a snack of an eagle nest. Though black bears are large, they’re nimble and excellent climbers. These nimble bears have been caught scavenging through an eagle’s nest on more than one occasion. In fact, in 2023, a black bear was found napping in an eagle’s nest after eating its fill.

8. Foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

Red Fox

A fox will eat a wide range of insects, birds, and fish but one of the tastiest and easiest meals is eggs.

©JMrocek/ via Getty Images

Foxes don’t often get the chance to eat eagle eggs. Foxes can’t climb, and eagles often lay eggs up high. There are times, though, when nests are where a fox can get to them. Man-made bald eagle nests and ones left on lower branches are perfect targets for a wily fox.

9. Gulls (Larus)

Seagulls mate for life, though when they're unable to have chicks, they may go their separate ways.

When you think of gulls, you may think of them eating mainly fish, but they have a varied diet.

©JimmyLung/ via Getty Images

You might not think that a gull would be one of the predators that eat bald eagles, but they do. Gulls, when wanting an easy meal, will eat other eggs. They are known to steal eggs from other gulls, but they do, on occasion, snatch an egg or two out of bald eagle nests. They will also eat young bald eagles if given the chance.

10. Ravens (Corvus)

Raven eating carrion

These birds are more than happy to get their hands on some young bald eagles or eggs.

©Raven eating carrion/Shutterstock.com

Ravens are predators that eat bald eagles and bald eagle eggs. They mainly focus on the eggs, but if an eagle is young or is already injured, they won’t waste an opportunity for easy food. Their big beaks are perfect for breaking open eggs.

11. Jaguars (Panthera onca)

An adult jaguar stalking in the grass

If the jaguar is lucky, they may be able to snatch up a bald eagle before the bird flies away

©Jo Reason/Shutterstock.com

Jaguars are one of the few predators that can catch and eat a full-grown bald eagle. These fierce cats and bald eagles only have a few areas where their habitats overlap and where jaguars can make an attempt to catch these big birds.

While jaguars can’t catch a bald eagle in the air, they sometimes get lucky and manage to sneak up on these majestic birds of prey before they are noticed.

12. Vultures (Cathartes aura)

turkey vulture eating

Vultures may seem gross, but they are an important part of the food chain.

©hubert999/Shutterstock.com

Both vultures and bald eagles are carrion feeders. This means that more often than not, they are competing for food rather than trying to eat each other. Once one of them becomes the carrion, though, all bets are off.

The vulture is a bit of a cheat on this list because they only eat bald eagles if they are already dead. However, on occasion, they will eat young bald eagles if the opportunity is there.

13. Wolves (Canis lupus)

Black wolf photos from springtime in the Midwest

Wolves are apex predators that hunt in packs and are capable of taking down some rather large prey.

©Laura Hedien/Shutterstock.com

Since wolves regularly hunt in packs, it’s not often they go for a smaller meal. Though they don’t mind fighting for their food, a bird that can fly away and isn’t enough to feed most of the pack is more effort than it’s usually worth. This means that wolves aren’t usually predators that eat bald eagles.

However, when times are desperate, or a wolf is on their own for some reason, bald eagle nests are a good, quick meal. If a nest has been placed too close to the ground a wolf won’t hesitate to crack open some eggs to get to the nutrients under the shell.

14. Snakes (Order: Squamata)

The venom green snake is eating gecko

There’s rarely food out of bounds for a snake.

©Trahcus/Shutterstock.com

Snakes are known for eating almost anything, even deer or alligator if the snake is big enough. So the fact that some snakes eat bald eagle young and their eggs comes as no surprise. While it might be a lot for some smaller snakes, for ones like pythons, bald eagle eggs are nothing more than a light snack.

15. Crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus)

American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

Sometimes, a bald eagle will let its guard down a little too much and become prey for a crocodile.

©Leonardo Gonzalez/Shutterstock.com

Crocodiles rarely leave the water for long. While there are tales of them and alligators climbing fences, they aren’t ones to climb up a tree to get to a nest. So how do water-loving crocodiles catch birds? They sit and wait. Everything has to come and get water sometimes, and when they do, a crocodile will be waiting.

16. Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis)

massive alligator napping with a toothy grin

If a bird goes to drink out of a body of water in the southernmost states of the US, they risk becoming prey for an alligator.

©J.A. Dunbar/Shutterstock.com

Alligators aren’t predators that chase their prey. They prefer to sit and wait. Often, they will wait just under the water’s surface, near the bank where animals come to drink. This is where they catch the majority of their prey, including the occasional bald eagle.

Summary of the Animals that Eat Bald Eagles

List NumberPredatorScientific Name
1HumansHomo sapiens
2RaccoonsProcyon lotor
3Black-Billed MagpiesPica hudsonia
4Eurasian Eagle OwlBubo bubo
5CrowsCorvus
6BobcatsLynx rufus
7Black BearsUrsus
8FoxesVulpes vulpes
9GullsLarus
10RavensCorvus
11JaguarsPanthera onca
12VulturesCathartes aura
13WolvesCanis lupus
14SnakesOrder: Squamata
15CrocodilesCrocodylus acutus
16AlligatorsAlligator mississippiensis


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About the Author

Nina is a writer at A-Z Animals, FIDIS Travel, and Giant Freakin Robot. Her focus is on wildlife, national parks, and the environment. She has been writing about animals for over three years. Nina holds a Bachelor's in Conservation Biology, which she uses when talking about animals and their natural habitats. In her free time, Nina also enjoys working on writing her novels and short stories. As a resident of Colorado, Nina enjoys getting out in nature, traveling, and watching snow hit the mountains from her enclosed porch.

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