The white-tailed eagle, also known as the sea eagle or the erne, is a magnificent bird of prey found in several parts of the world. With their impressive wingspan of up to 8 feet, these eagles are known for their exceptional hunting skills and their ability to dominate their prey in the air and on the ground. In this article, we will explore what the white-tailed eagle eats, including the types of prey they hunt and how they obtain their food.
Overview of White-Tailed Eagle Diet
The white-tailed eagle is a carnivorous bird, which means that it feeds exclusively on other animals. This bird primarily hunts fish, birds, and mammals, but its diet may vary depending on its habitat and availability of prey. While these eagles are opportunistic hunters, they prefer to hunt live prey, but they will also feed on carrion if necessary.
One of the primary sources of food for the white-tailed eagle is fish. These birds are adept at catching fish from both freshwater and saltwater sources, making them common near coasts, lakes, and rivers. The white-tailed eagle typically hunts larger fish species, such as salmon, trout, and herring. They use their sharp talons to grab the fish out of the water and then carry it back to their nest or perching site to consume it. Additionally, the white-tailed eagle often steals fish from other birds, such as ospreys and gulls.
Another significant source of food for the white-tailed eagle is birds. They typically hunt smaller bird species, such as ducks, geese, and seabirds, but they have been known to take down larger birds like swans and cranes. The white-tailed eagle usually attacks its prey from above, using its powerful talons and sharp beak to capture and kill the bird in mid-air. Once the bird is dead, the eagle will take it back to its perch or nest to consume it.
While fish and birds are the primary sources of food for the white-tailed eagle, they will also hunt small mammals such as rabbits, hares, and rodents. The eagle uses its sharp talons to grab the mammal from the ground or in mid-air, killing it instantly. They have also been known to attack larger mammals like deer and foxes, but this is relatively rare.
White-tailed eagles are opportunistic hunters and will feed on carrion if live prey is scarce. Carrion refers to the flesh of an animal that has already died from natural causes, disease, or predation. The eagle usually feeds on carrion when other food sources are not readily available, or when they are weakened or injured and unable to hunt. While feeding on carrion is not their preferred method, they will eat it if necessary to survive.
The white-tailed eagle is a skilled hunter that uses various techniques to catch its prey. When hunting for fish, the eagle will fly over the water, scanning the surface for movement. Once they spot a fish, they will dive down and use their powerful talons to grab the fish out of the water. If necessary, they will also steal fish from other birds, such as ospreys and gulls, by harassing them until they drop their catch.
When hunting for birds, the white-tailed eagle will typically attack from above, using its size and strength to overpower the bird in flight. They will often use a technique called stooping, where they rapidly descend upon their prey, catching it with their sharp talons and killing it instantly. Alternatively, they may chase the bird until it becomes exhausted, making it easier to capture.
When hunting for small mammals, the white-tailed eagle will use its keen eyesight to spot its prey from a distance. Once they have located their target, they will quickly fly down and use their sharp talons to grab the mammal before it can escape.
In conclusion, the white-tailed eagle is a magnificent bird of prey that feeds exclusively on other animals. Their diet primarily consists of fish, birds, and small mammals, but they will also feed on carrion if necessary. They are skilled hunters that use various techniques to capture their prey, including stooping and chasing. While hunting live prey is their preferred method, they will eat carrion when food sources are scarce. Overall, the white-tailed eagle’s diet is impressive, and their hunting skills make them a formidable predator in their habitat.