Eagles are some of the most vicious predators of birds in the world. They are revered by both animals and human beings. Their diet varies depending on their environment. In this post, we take a look into whether they eat live or dead animals.
Do eagles eat dead animals?
Eagles are carnivores that are considered apex predators in their ecosystems. Eagles will eat both live and dead animals as carrions. They either hunt for their meat or scavenge or steal from other predators, eagles will not also shy away from eating carrions which are dead animals.
Eagles are apex predators meaning they are at the top of the food chain in their ecosystems. They are some of the most vicious hunters, their bodies especially beaks, claws, and talons plus wings are adapted to give them an advantage over their prey.
What makes Eagles Vicious Predators
The following features help eagles hunt
Like all birds of prey, eagles have a strong curved beak with sharp edges that help them to tear through fresh of either live or dead animals.
The eagle’s beak is strong enough to tear through the fur and skin of its prey. Which come in hard when tearing the flesh into small pieces for easy swallowing and easy digestion.
The tongue of an eagle is short enough for it not to bite its own tongue, but it can still stick them out, especially when cooling down after a hunting flight.
Since eagles do not have sweat glands, after a hunting flight especially when it is excessively hot. They will open their mouth wide and stick their tongue out while opening their wings at the same time.
Well while eagles cannot see clearly in the darkness, in daylight they have one of the best eyesight in the animal kingdom.
A feature that comes in handy given that they also fly very high in the sky, this eyesight helps them locate prey as small as a rabbit or fish in water from miles away.
The eyes of an eagle occupy a considerable space in its head. For an animal with a small head, the eye of an eagle is as big as that of a human and 4-8 times stronger than that of average human beings.
The eye of an eagle can act as both a binocular and monocular, which means that they can see independently of the other. The two focal points allow the eagle to see forward and sideways at about 45 degrees.
This trait allows them to see over a long distance, in fact, they can spot prey that is as far as 3.2 kilometers.
Eagles do not have hands to hold on to their prey. In their place, they have very strong structures called talons. Three of the talons face forward with one facing backward known as a hallux.
Hallux makes it easy for eagles to grip onto their prey firmly. the grip of the bald eagle is even stronger than the grip of a human hand.
The wings of the eagles are massive and designed to allow for easy flight and speed. They can glide as high as possible in the sky and accelerate towards their prey at a very high speed.
When they spot their prey they position their wings in a way that increases the aerodynamics and decreases the resistance from air easing the flight and improving their speed.
Their wings are also used as a braking system that helps them stop just right before they pick their prey, change direction and fly away.
These wings are also strong enough to allow the eagle to carry its prey with it in the air. This feature is very helpful, especially for the sea eagles that need to catch their prey and take them out of the water to dry land.
It is also equally helpful for the snake eagles that have to be fully high in the sky while carrying their prey.
The digestion of the eagle
The digestion of an eagle is also one of the most efficient among birds. The food of an eagle goes through different stages in its digestion to maximize the extraction of nutrients.
Eagles use their bills to tear flesh into small pieces, these small pieces of meat are then moved to the crop. Crop helps store the meat temporarily.
From the crop food is released in small portions towards the stomach, the first part of the stomach is known as the proventriculus, in this section enzymes break down the food, and the food proceeds to the gizzard for further digestion.
From the gizzard, food is absorbed in the small intestine.
Since raw food is stored in the crop, eagles can go for as long as 150 days without food. During this time they will be using food stored in the crop.
This fact helps them during winter and when they are sitting on their eggs.
What do baby eagles eat?
The diet of baby eagles is dictated by their parents and their environment. Baby eagles will normally eat the hunt of their parents. This will include live prey or carrions, however, the parent’s eagle will have torn the meat into small chunks that make it easy for the baby eagle to eat.
Baby eagles can eat as many times as 8 times in a single day.
Do eagles drink water?
Like all other animals eagles need fresh and clean water, they can get water from their prey but at times they will need to physically drink water.
What do eagles eat in captivity?
The bald eagle is the most captive-kept eagle, they are easy to tame and train. Bald eagles are especially very famous in Dubai where they are kept as pets.
Pet eagles are also common in Mongolia. The diet of the captive eagle is determined by the species of the eagle and the readily available food. For instance, bald eagles are fed fish since it is readily available and easy to come by.
What do the Eagles do with a dead baby?
When the baby of an eagle dies the eagle will normally eat, they can devour their young ones within minutes.
While eagles are vicious hunters of live prey, they do not shy away from stealing other predators’ catches and even eat dead animals. Some have even gone as far as eating their young ones.