Do Eagles eat birds? Do they eat them alive?
Yes, eagles can eat birds but not all of the eagles feed on birds exclusively. And yes, they are also known to eat them alive by carrying it to their nest or sometimes on the spot.
Some of the eagles are known to majorly feed on birds as they can be easy kills for them, along with other small-sized mammals like rodents, and reptiles like snakes and lizards.
There are no such species of eagles known to mankind that one and only feeds on birds.
They are all opportunistic hunters that can feed on their probable prey that also includes small to mid-sized bird species, and if they want they can also steal their prey’s prey and killing the prey itself, and then feeding on both.
Eagles are mostly seen to suddenly attack a bird with their sharp talons and carry them to their nest or on the branch of the tree where they can feast on it.
It has been also seen that when they attack any mid-sized birds like hens, crows, or ravens they get often countered by many other hens, crows, or ravens that want to protect their mates from being hunted.
In such a case, they may often fail when trying to attack such mid-sized birds that roam in groups.
So, they often try to chase or give a sudden attack to many of the small-sized bird species like the feeder birds and, as they do better know that they will be more successful during the kill.
In the wild, you will often find the mid to large-sized eagles feeding on the many birds like ducks, gulls, and geese, and other large-sized ones as well.
In some rural and urban regions, they mostly like feeding on the feeder birds. Some of the feeder birds eaten by the eagles include those of the sparrows, dark-eyed junco, American Robin, quail, house finch, doves, pigeons, and even crows and ravens.
What birds do eagles eat?
Eagles like to eat a wide variety of birds. They can eat a majority of the birds ranging from small-sized to mid-sized ones that can be seen in their type of ecosystem.
Small-sized Eagles like the Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata), like to feed on small-sized birds like sparrows, songbirds, quail, finches, owls, baby birds, etc.
Larger-sized eagles like the Harpy Eagle can not only feed on small-sized birds but are also known to feed on mid-sized birds like Tinamou, Northern Screamer, pigeons, dove, crows, ravens, hens, ducks, American wigeon, macaws, etc.
The young eaglets are directly fed raw meat which their mother has hunted starting from their day one. They feed their chicks by tearing off pieces of food and holding them to the beaks of the eaglets.
Now, depending on where they live, some eagles like the Bald Eagles eat mainly fish, others subsist mostly on other birds such as gulls and geese.
Those that feed on birds like hens, crows, and ravens can sometimes get unsuccessful during their kills. Birds like crows, ravens, and hens are strength in numbers and are often large and smart, and can easily defeat a small-sized to mid-sized eagle
But in the majority of the cases, the large-sized eagles are well-seen in attacking and successfully killing these medium-sized birds like crows and ravens.
Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) is the most powerful and dangerous eagle known to humans. Others like the Philippine eagles are considered the largest of all of the eagle species in the world followed by the Harpy eagle, Steller’s sea eagle, and Wedge-Tailed Eagle.
So, for these eagles like the Harpy Eagle, it is very easy to kill and carry a mid to large-sized birds as they can almost carry weight equal to their body weight when they fly. They are also known to eat their prey alive.
How do eagles hunt and eat other birds?
Eagles are the birds of prey. They are the most skillful hunters and many of them are opportunistic hunters as well, meaning that they can steal other birds prey too.
Some of the eagles like the most powerful Harpy eagle are known to snatch food before it could be eaten by others. They are a kind of apex birds of prey in their habitat that rule in the air.
Eagles are known to kill their prey with its strong powerful talons. With its one grab, the bird dies as the talons are sharp enough to dig into the body of the bird.
They also use their sharp, pointed, and hooked-like beak to rip of the feathers, skin, and muscles of the bird during the feast.
They have great vision during the daylight which is 8 times better than the humans.
During daylight, they can see more colours than we can and can also precisely detect far objects from the sky while flying or from atop the perch of a tree.
Their vision is so awesome and clear like an eagle can see something the size of a rabbit more than three miles away.
They can even detect the UV light coming out of the prey at a distance of a few hundred feet above the ground.
As soon as they have detected their prey bird, they won’t wait for a second in attacking the bird. They will swoop down very fast, and snatch the bird either from the tree branch or while in flight with their dangerous talons.
Instead, it can also wheel out of the sky, some distance away and swoops in from downwind, close to the ground and snatches its prey with their pointed hooked-like talons.
They are also air hunters as they are known to hunt their prey bird when both are during the flight in the air.
Their reflexes are so active and so they can attack super-fast and grab their prey before it realizes what has happened.
After snatching their prey with their sharp talons, they will fly and carry the bird to their nest. Small-sized birds can be killed with a sudden attack using the talons.
After the prey is carried to the nest or at a suitable place to feast on it. Then, the eagle will use its talons to hold the bird and with its sharp beak it will reap of the muscles and feathers of the bird and will feed on it.
Do all eagles eat birds? Which eagles are known to feed on birds?
Yes, all of the eagles can feed on birds, but they do have a mixture of many prey in their diet as well along with birds.
They not only exclusively feed on birds, but they can also feed on salmon, catfish, herring, shad, rabbits, crabs, various other reptiles, amphibians, marmot, various monkeys, dogs, squirrels, mice, voles, snakes, large insects, lizards, foxes, young deer, and carrion, along with various other birds.
The most well-known bird eaters are the species of eagles like the Bald eagle, Golden Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Philippine Eagle, Steppe Eagle, and even the Harpy Eagle.
The species like the Bald Eagle, Steppe Eagle, etc. are known to catch birds ranging from small to mid-sized ones. And, they are also known to eat their prey alive.
The powerful species like the Harpy Eagle can feed upon large-sized birds that are almost equal to the eagle’s body weight.
Eagles like the African fish eagle can also feed on large-sized birds like flamingoes, cranes, ducks along with other water birds.
The eagle like the Philippine eagle is a very powerful bird of prey and they are also known as the monkey-eating eagle. They can feed on many flying lemurs, tree monkeys, and even on large-sized birds like owls.
If you consider the list of the heaviest eagles like the Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus), Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), Martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus), and White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), then all of these can easily feed on the mid-sized to large-size birds.
Other largest wingespan eagles like the Crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus), Crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus), etc. are also known to feed on birds.
Altogether, there are more than 60 species of eagle in the world and so, out of these almost 55 to 57 species are known to feed on birds along with other types of prey.
However, there are no exclusive bird-eating eagles known to date that can one and only feed on birds.
What kind of bird is an eagle? What makes them successful bird hunters?
Eagles are the most powerful and athletic birds of prey. They are some of the most largest, heavy-beaked, big-footed birds of prey belonging to the family Accipitridae, order Accipitriformes, and class Aves of the Animal Kingdom.
Most eagles are larger than any other raptors apart from some vultures. But, here the difference is that vultures feed on dead animals, but eagles feed by hunting fresh.
They are known as the strongest birds of prey because they do have the most powerful sharp-pointed hook-like talons (claws) in their four digits of their two of the limbs that help them grab their prey very firmly and aggressively with their talons digging into the body of the prey.
Like all birds of prey, eagles have very large, hooked beaks for ripping the flesh off their prey and the beak is typically heavier than that of most other birds of prey.
They are fast flyers and so can fly at a speed of about 50 kms per hour. So, they with the proper coordination and use of the talons, beaks, and enormous strength, and better aerodynamic biomechanics can fly and grab their prey which can be a bird in the blink of a eye.
Their reflexes are so active and so they attack super-fast and grab their prey before it realizes what has happened.
And, so all of these make the eagles the successful bird hunters as the birds they prey upon are not so capable of fleeing away more often when an eagle attacks them.