Eagles are some of the most efficient and powerful hunters on Earth. They may be birds, but they use hunting tactics that are as sophisticated and effective as any lion, bear or snake. Let’s take a look at how bald eagles like to hunt to show you just how impressive they really are as predators.
Vision Like a Binoculars
Bald eagles can sight their prey from very far away. Their eyes are designed for long-distance hunting, so even though they like to fly up hundreds of feet in the air, they can spot a field mouse, quail or other small animal on the ground. Even naturally camouflaged animals can be seen by a hunting bald eagle from a great distance. Eagles have a range of vision that is five times greater than that of a human. They also have greater field-of-depth vision, which means that they can see details you would not and notice small differences between the environment and any living creature moving around in it.
Their Talons Make for Efficient Tools
Eagles are well equipped to catch just about any kind of prey. They love catching fish out of the water, and their talons have unique bumpy parts that help them hold a wriggling fish captive and ensure that they don’t drop their wet, slippery dinner back into the water.
They Soar to Save Energy
Eagles travel great distances to find food that they desire. They need to find enough too to feed themselves and their family, so they often have to travel a lot each day to get enough food, especially since their nests are so high off the ground. Instead of wasting all their energy on flapping their wings to stay up in the sky, eagles will soar on currents of wind. They are excellent soarers and can stay aloft without any need for flapping for a very long time. Most adult eagles can travel as fast as twenty miles an hour without using hardly energy because of their great soaring techniques.
They Eat Pretty Much Anything
Eagles are not picky eaters. Because they have to consume so much food (these are big birds, after all), they can’t be too picky about what they eat. They like to eat fish, small mammals, birds and reptiles, but they will eat carrion or decaying flesh as well as garbage. They only eat organic tissue, but they are not very selective about where they get it. Eagles will take dead carcasses away from smaller animals and enjoy the spoils for themselves. Maybe they get the title of “king of the birds” by the way they just take everything for themselves.
Eagles are natural predators with the tools that are perfect for hunting just about anything that’s smaller than them and a few things that are larger. They will sometimes hunt mountain goats and deer that are bigger than the eagle’s body because they know that prey is rather docile and will feed their family for a while.
The eagle family is a good example of an animal unit that works together and builds a really strong foundation for the offspring to benefit from and grow up well nourished and provided for.
Making a Nest Is a Team Effort
It all starts at the nest building stage, where the male and female work together to make a nest that can weigh up to two tons. They mostly gather sticks to make their nest, creating a structure that can be several feet wide and a few feet deep. Year after year, if the nest has proven successful, the eagles will add to it, making it larger and stronger. They usually build their nests in trees or on rocks, far from the ground.
Eagles Usually Mate for Life
Eagles are admirable mating partners, as they stick together for life, in most cases. They are also some of the most long-lived birds, so that lifelong partnership is even more impressive. Usually, the only time that eagles will not stick with the same mate is if one of them dies or if the mate does not come back to the nesting area after a period of time. Once the remaining eagle believes the mate is not returning, they will find a new mate quickly, and they will likely use the same nest. Eagles love their nests and are very attached to where they have built them, so unless there is serious danger at the nest site, they are likely to keep using the same site over and over again. This is true even if their nest fails and needs to be rebuilt.
Eggs Are Obsessively Cared for
Eagles are very protective of their young and care for them very well, even when they are still eggs. The average eagle lays 1-3 eggs at a time and only lays that one set of eggs for the year, unless that brood is lost. The eggs take about 35 days to gestate, and they need to be kept warm the entire time until the day they hatch. The male and female eagles will share responsibilities there. When one goes to hunt, the other will sit on the eggs and keep them warm, providing protection and helping the incubation process along.
Baby Eagles Are Expected to Fend for Themselves
Mother and father eagles will bring food for their eagles, but they don’t feed all the baby eagles the same amount. They bring flesh torn from prey, and they give the larger baby eagles the most food. This allows them to develop into even bigger and stronger eagles.
Learning to fly is done by a process known as branching. The baby eagle will teach itself to fly by stepping out on branches and practicing to retain its balance. If the baby falls as it branches, the parents will catch it and return it to the nest. Baby eagles will learn to fly through a sometimes painful process, going for short flights that can leave them with a few bumps as they learn how to fly. But they imitate and watch their parents and quickly learn how to tuck their legs, soar on the breeze and fly like a pro.
You may know that eagles have some of the largest and most impressive wingspans in the bird kingdom, but did you know they also build some of the largest nests? An eagle’s nest can be a few feet wide and several feet deep as well, built up out of sticks, primarily. The male and female eagles both gather the sticks for the nest and build it up over a series of weeks, but even when the eggs are laid and the birds hatch, the nest building isn’t done.
An eagle can continue to build its nest over the next few years, since eagles are notoriously territorial and stick with the same nest for life, so long as it serves them well. This is why an eagle’s nest can reach a weight of nearly two tons. They build their nest some place with lots of support, such as in the branches of a tall tree or on a rock. The nest is always built up some place high, because eagles with their excellent hunting vision want an overlook where they can see prey or danger from at a distance. They give themselves an elevated perch where they build their nest, which is why we have the expression “an eagle’s eye view”.
Eagles spend some serious time and thought planning where they are going to build their nest. They hate to abandon a nest, so they put a lot of work into ensuring that they have chosen a good spot. They have a knack, or instinct if you will, for choosing good places to make nests, and it is very rare for an eagle to change nesting areas.
They have a large hunting and breeding area that they consider their own. You will see eagles soaring high above the sky in their areas that they have mapped out for themselves. Unless it is looking for a mate or it runs out of food in its area, an eagle will not venture outside of its territory. These are fiercely territorial birds, and they are aggressive to anything that looks like a danger to their family that goes into their territory.
They don’t even like to migrate. Eagles tend to stay within the same area when the cold weather sets in, because they love their homes so much. The only time they move outside the area is when winter weather makes food or shelter scarce. As leaves fall from the trees and cause them to lose their shelter or as animals migrate out of their hunting area, eagles will expand their hunting searches and move outside their territory to find food. They will not abandon their nest, however, unless they absolutely have to.
If they do have to move away from their home due to winter weather, they will usually return to their original home once the warmer weather starts to come back. They will take up the same hunting patterns and territory that they had before, as they will remember all of their area and how they used to protect it against dangers.