What Is the Diet of the Bald Eagle?


A bald eagle's diet consists of a variety of fish, mammals, other birds, reptiles and amphibians. Fish account for about 70 to 90 percent of the bird's diet; catfish, shad, salmon and herring are all fair game on the bald eagle's menu. The bird may also eat invertebrates.

Rabbit and muskrat are two mammals that the bald eagle readily feeds upon; waterfowl are also a food option. The eagle ingests the fur and bones of its mammalian prey, but then forms these into a pellet that it later expels from its mouth. On the other hand, the bird both ingests and digests the bones of fish.

In addition to hunting for live prey, a bald eagle also feeds on the remains of dead animals, much like its relative the vulture. The bird also, at times, steals food from competitors such as the osprey. The bird can feed heavily at one time and then go for long periods without food.

In the latter part of the 20th century, bald eagles found their population at risk through food contamination by DDT and other chemicals. The banning of DDT and the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act contributed to a dramatic resurgence among the bald eagle population.