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Are Eagles Carnivores, Herbivores or Omnivores?

Are Eagles Carnivores, Herbivores or Omnivores?

There are different types of eagles, and the diet of an eagle is largely determined by its environment. Below we take a deeper look into what eagles eat in their different environment.

Are eagles carnivores, herbivores or omnivores? Eagles are carnivores, they eat other animals such as fish, amphibians, snakes, crabs, rodents, hares, squirrels, small birds, and other mammals.

Eagles are classified as apex birds of prey in their ecosystems. The anatomy of the eagles includes strong curved beaks and talons that help them rip and tear fresh making them vicious predators. Eagles can also eat dead animals known as carrion.

The bald eagle one of the most vicious fish predators is the national symbol of the United States. Eagles are considered symbols of transcendence, freedom, and power.

What does Eagles Eat?

What eagles eat is largely determined by their ecosystem and their species. But basically, eagles eat meat by hunting other animals. Based on what eagles eat they can be divided into four broad categories.

Sea Eagles

Sea eagles are also called fish eagles, fish hawks, Pandion haliaetus, or Osprey. The name ern or erne is mostly used to refer to the white-tailed sea eagle.

Sea eagles are opportunistic carnivorous birds of prey, fish are the primary diet of sea eagles, especially bald eagles. However, they will also eat small mammals and birds, crabs, sea snakes, molluscs, turtles, tortoises, and carrions.

Sea eagles are skilled hunters in water and will even attack and hunt prey as big as swans. Some farmers have even reported cases where sea eagles attached their sheep and lambs, especially when there is scarcity of their natural diet.

Sea eagles are characterized by strong arched beaks and the lower part of the legs are bare. Their claws are roughened which makes it easy for them to catch slippery prey.

How do sea eagles hunt their prey?

The sea eagles either hunt from an exposed perch where they spot their prey and then decent shallowly and plunge dive into the water especially when hunting eels or fish.

Occasionally, sea eagles will circle above water as they scout for their prey. They will then steep dive and level out as it touches the water surface grasping their prey and with their powerful wings they normally use their powerful wings to fly away with their catch.

The white-bellied sea eagle is not known to plunge deep into the water compared to Osprey that dives deeper into the water.

However, despite nesting and hunting in water bodies, Osprey is not classified as sea eagle.

The sea eagles catch and eat the following fish

  • Bream
  • Mullet
  • Whiting
  • Flounder
  • Black fish
  • Eel
  • Leatherjacket

Sea eagles also hunt and eat

  • Silver gulls
  • Feral Pigeon
  • Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard
  • Grey-headed Flying Fox

Booted eagles

This type of eagle is made of medium-sized eagles. Booted eagles are migratory birds of prey, this means that their diet is normally dictated by what is available along their migratory route.

The main diet of booted eagles is composed of small mammals e.g squirrels and jackrabbits, small and medium-sized birds, amphibians, reptiles, and large insects.

The legs of the booted eagles are covered with feathers as opposed to the sea eagles since they do not come into contact with water that often.

Booted eagles hunt by soaring focusing on clearings on the ground. They circle around their hunting grounds, eyesight is one of the features that make booted eagles vicious hunters.

They can spot prey on the ground from very high in the sky. Once the prey is spotted they dive to the ground at a very high speed, they will then straighten their wings just before they hit the ground, scoop the prey in their talons and fly away.

Snake Eagles

Snake eagles are also medium-sized slightly bigger than the booted eagle.

They are brown in color, with yellow eyes, pale legs, large angular heads, and their tails and brown and white banded. Snake eagles are normally found in the savannah.

Just as the name suggests the main diet of snake eagles is snakes though they also hunt lizards, small mammals, and birds, and even fish. They either eat live prey or carrions since they are also opportunistic feeders.

The snake eagles are divided into three Types

  • The Bateleur
  • Brown snake eagle
  • Black-chested Snake-Eagle

The Bateleur Eagles is an opportunistic feeder, feeding on live prey and carrions. The highest percentage of its diet about 80% is composed of small mammals, birds 18% is composed of snakes and fish takes up about 2%.

The Brown snake eagle on the other hand is a predominantly snake feeder preying on the grass snakes, mambas, puffadders, and boomslang among other snakes. They also hunt other small birds and mammals.

The Black-chested snake eagle is also a predominant snake eater, feeding on cobras grass snakes, adders, boomslang and sometimes they will also hunt lizards and chameleons.

Snake eagles are not immune to the venom of the snakes they hunt, as a result, they rely on the speed with which they ambush their prey.

They hunt from a perch and use their flying speed and talons to inflict damage on the snake that is supposed to incapacitate the snake and give the eagle time to inflict more damage.

Snake eagles swallow the snake’s whole starting with the head.

Their talons have strong and very rough scales that can work to protect them against snake venom.

Giant forest eagles

These are large eagles also known as harpy eagles that inhabit the tropical forests.

The giant forest eagles are monstrous and very powerful birds of prey. They are apex predators in the tropical forests, due to the large size of the female giant forest eagles, they can hunt large prey compared to the males that due to their size they might not be able to prey on large animals.

Giant forest eagle’s main diet is composed of tree-dwelling mammals such as the monkeys’ sloths, squirrels, opossums other birds such as macaws and reptiles.

Related Questions

Is an Eagle a top carnivore? Eagles are considered top or apex carnivores in their ecosystems. They can eat live prey or even carrions. Some of the eagles are good opportunistic feeders snatching the prey of other predators.

Do Eagles have any predators? There no many predators that can kill an eagle one-on-one. That said some of the predators of eagles include humans, hawks other eagles, and raccoons. Most of these predators will attach injured eagles, their nestlings, or eggs. The prowess of the eagles makes them hard prey to kill especially in a one-on-one encounter.

Do Eagles have natural predators? Adult eagles have very few natural predators, however, eagle nestlings have a few predators that include raccoons, bobcats, crows, hawks, ravens, owls, gulls, black bears, wolverine, and Black-billed Magpies.


Eagles are carnivores that feed either on live prey or carrions. They are classified as apex predators in their environment, their diet is also dictated by the environment that they live in. While the hunting prowess and strong nature of eagles make them hard to kill by other animals. They can fall prey to other eagles, plus other animals especially when they are young or injured.