Bald eagles are opportunistic foragers and have a wide, varied diet feeding on fish; adult water birds, their nestlings, and their eggs; carrion; small mammals; and even human refuse.
As opportunistic, carnivorous foragers, bald eagles have a fairly wide diet, but generally prefer fish. With such a large range, their diet may vary greatly.
Bald eagles are known to eat the following fish: rainbow trout, American eels (Anguilla rostrata), gizzard shads, white catfish (Ameiurus catus), kokanee salmon, rock greenlings, Pacific cod, atka mackerel, largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and chum salmon, among others.
Another large component of their diet includes adult water birds, their nestlings, and their eggs including common murres (Uria aalge), great blue herons (Ardea herodias), snow geese (Anser caerulescens), Ross geese, tundra swans (Cygnus columbianus), northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), auklets, American coots (Fulica americana), and common loons (Gavia immer).
In the winter, their diets often shift to carrion and small mammal prey. Bald eagles may hunt live ground squirrels, Pahranagat Valley montane voles (Microtus montanus), Norway rats, and sea otter pups (Enhydra lutris), among others. Likewise, these birds feed on the carrion of large mammals such as wapiti (Cervus canadensis), moose (Alces alces), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), American bison (Bison bison), wolves, and arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus).
Populations of bald eagles have also been found residing near landfills, consuming human refuse.
• Image | ©️ Jerry McFarland, Some Rights Reserved, (CC BY-NC 2.0)
• Sources | (Alderfer, 2006; Anthony, Estes, Ricca, Miles, & Forsman, 2008; Brown, 1993; Brown, Stevens, & Yates, 1998; Bryan, Hopkins, Eldridge, Brisbin, & Jagoe, 2005; Buehler, 2020; Burnie & Wilson, 2001; Dickinson, 2017; Hansen, 1986; Harvey, Moriarty, & Salathe, 2012; Kaufman, 2005; Korhel & Clark, 1981; McCarthy, DeStefano, & Laskowski, 2010; McClelland, et al., 1994; Norman, Breault, & Moul, 1989; Parrish, Marvier, & Paine, 2001; Sibley, 2003; Siciliano Martina, 2013; Stalmaster & Kaiser, 1998; Thompson, Nye, Schmidt, & Garcelon, 2005)