What Do Eagles Eat?

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: January 24, 2023
© iStock.com/R Lolli Morrow
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Key Points

  • Eagles and other raptors specialize in rodent hunting and can catch approximately 2,000 mice per year.
  • Eagle vision is five times better than human vision. They can see up to 3 kilometers away!
  • Eagles are opportunistic carnivores and prefer live prey.

The term eagle refers to any of the large birds known as raptors, which are found all over the world except Antarctica. Raptors are birds of prey that hunt other vertebrate animals. Their prey is typically large in comparison to their size, though raptors are typically large for birds. There are many species of eagle, about 60 in total, in a wide array of sizes and colors.

Though they are all carnivorous predators, some have a diet that is more specialized than that of other eagles. The bald eagle, for example, has a diet that consists mainly of fish, though they will also consume waterfowl, small mammals, and even snakes as well. The long-crested eagle’s diet consists almost entirely of rodents.

When they hunt, they may fly over an area in search of food, but more commonly they will find a high vantage point to perch and wait, then swoop down, grasp the prey, and continue flying. It is rare for them to be on the ground and grab prey before taking off.

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There are a few animals that prey on eagle eggs, such as other birds of prey and some small mammals.

What Do Eagles Eat?

Eagles eat squirrels, rabbits, fish, and mice.

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In general, eagles feed on birds and mammals, and tend to be opportunistic eaters. That means if rabbits are abundant, their diet will be mainly rabbits. If food is scarce, they may eat carrion. If food is very scarce and they are forced to fly into more populated areas in search of food, very small pets, usually cats or kittens, may wind up on the menu. Puppies may also fall prey to raptors, but this is rare and happens more frequently with hawks than with eagles.

A Complete List of Foods Eagles Eat

The eagle diet is vast and spans pretty much all animals. So long as they are classified as vertebrates, eagles will eat them. Though some of the 60 species prefer one type of animal over others, most types will eat whatever they can catch and fly away with, even if it’s already dead when they find it.

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The Featured Image

close up of a bald eagle
close up of a bald eagle
© iStock.com/R Lolli Morrow

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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