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Are There Animals That Eat Eagles?

Eagles are considered to be apex predators, which means that they sit at the top of the food chain. While eagles prey on a variety of animals, including fish, birds, and small animals, eagles don’t have any natural predators in the wild. Thanks to this, eagles have long lifespans and can live for more than 30 years in the wild.

Even though eagles don’t have to worry about predators, these large birds of prey are occasionally eaten by other animals. Keep reading to learn about the animals that eat eagles and what causes an eagle to be eaten.

Are There Any Animals That Eat Eagles?

Thanks to their razor-sharp talons, muscular legs, and excellent vision, there aren’t many animals that can successfully face off against eagles. Some eagle species, like the large and aggressive golden eagle, are particularly fearsome. Although eagles don’t have to worry about predators, there are some instances where certain animals will eat eagles, such as:

Nest Predators

Barn owl
Barn owl | Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

There are no predators that pose a threat to adult eagles, but there are many animals that will feed on eagles while they’re still young. When eagles are in areas without many trees, they’ll build nests on top of cliffs or on the ground, which makes their nests easy to access. Eagles usually guard their nests to protect their young from predators, but if they leave the nest to look for food, there are many animals that see young birds and eggs as easy prey.

Carnivorous birds, like owls, feed on small animals and birds. Owls are nocturnal hunters, which makes them especially dangerous for eagles. Usually, an owl will swoop down on a nest while adult eagles are sleeping, allowing them to steal and eat a young bird before the more dangerous adult can act.

While owls will eat young birds, there are also birds that like to eat eagle eggs, like crows, hawks, and magpies. Some of these birds, like hawks, will feed on young eagles as well. In addition to birds, there are some mammals, like raccoons and wolverines, that will attack an unguarded eagle nest.

Even though there are many animals that will eat young eagles and eagle eggs, none of these creatures pose a big threat to eagles. Studies show that young eagles in rural environments have a survival rate of 89%. While eagles face more threats in suburban and urban environments, the survival rate for immature eagles is still between 65 and 72%.

Scavengers

Black vulture on a tree trunk
Black vulture on a tree trunk | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Most animals won’t try to attack eagles while they’re still alive, but there are a number of scavenger animals that eat eagles after they’ve died. In fact, many birds are scavengers, including vultures, California condors, and even bald eagles! Typically, scavengers will feed on the carcasses of eagles and other animals when there aren’t other sources of food available.

Scavenger animals play an important role in many ecosystems. Not only do they clean up dead animals, but they can potentially prevent disease from spreading. By scavenging for food, animals are also able to get nutrients during times when food would otherwise be scarce.

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Some scavenging birds, like vultures, will also steal food from eagles! These birds typically attack eagles in groups. While they’re able to successfully steal food from eagles, they won’t target eagles while they’re still alive.

Parasites

Usually, eagles don’t have to worry about smaller animals, but there are some microscopic creatures that feed on eagles! Some of these parasites are so small that they can’t be seen by the naked eye. However, parasites do pose a risk to eagles, and anemia caused by parasites is a leading cause of death for nesting eagles.

One parasite that frequently targets eagles are helminths, which are parasitic worms that infest and feed on living hosts. These creatures deposit their eggs in a variety of locations, including the soil and water sources. If eagles consume these eggs, they can hatch inside them, allowing the hatched larvae to deplete nutrients from their bodies.

Eagles are also targeted by single-celled creatures known as protozoan parasites. These parasites infest many of the smaller birds and mammals that eagle species feed on. When eagles eat these animals, they also ingest these parasites, allowing them to infest the eagle’s muscle tissue.

Other Eagles

A bald eagle swoops in to the water to catch a fish.
Bald eagle swoops in to the water to catch a fish.

Eagles may be at the top of the food chain, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be eaten by other eagles! While eagles primarily eat smaller birds and mammals, eagles will attack and eat each other when food resources are scarce. In some cases, eagles scavenge on dead eagles, but in other cases, eagles will attack and kill birds of their species.

When eagles attack each other, they’re more likely to target juveniles. In fact, eagles have even been observed eating their own young! This practice may be a way for eagles to reduce competition for food in areas where the eagle population is high.

Humans

Old male human smiling
Old male human smiling | image by Jeyho Moon via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

The bald eagle spent many years on the endangered species list, and bald and gold eagles are both considered to be protected species. While eagle populations have managed to recover in recent years, humans helped to bring eagles to the brink of extinction. Lead poisoning, habitat destruction, and illegal shootings are some of the many things that put eagles at risk.

Even though humans have put eagles at risk, it’s very rare for people to kill and eat eagles. In the past, there were some indigenous cultures, such as the Nootka, Kwakiutl, and Tlingit people, that would eat eagle meat and use their feathers in down. While some federally recognized tribes in the United States are still permitted to hunt and eat eagles, this practice is extremely rare.

Conclusion

Eagles eat all kinds of creatures, but it’s rare for eagles to be eaten by other animals. There are some animals that will feed on young eagles and eagle eggs, and scavengers will sometimes eat dead eagles, but these animals aren’t much of a risk to eagles. The eagle is at the top of the food chain, and because of that, predators don’t pose a concern to these birds of prey.

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