The majestic eagle isn’t always at the top of the food chain. They’re known for their strength and courage, but there are natural predators and enemies that make them run for their lives.
From wildcats to foxes, coyotes, and larger birds of prey like vultures, eagles face various threats that can challenge their survival.
Below we’ll discuss the natural predators and enemies of eagles. Read on to discover the different creatures that pose a danger to the majestic eagles.
An Overview of Different Animals that Can Eat Eagles
Humans are the number one predator of eagles. They hunt eagles for food, feathers, and sport. Some cultures also hunt eagles to honor them.
Today, they mostly hunt eagles for the parts used in traditional medicines. The eagle’s claws, beaks, and feathers are highly prized, making the birds endangered or extinct.
For instance, many species of sea eagles are now critically endangered due to overhunting by humans.
Even though there are laws against killing eagles, people often disregard these laws and continue to hunt these majestic animals for various purposes.
Leopards are carnivores and will hunt and consume eagles if given the opportunity.
These big cats have the strength and agility to take down large prey like eagles and use their sharp claws to hold on to their catch.
While leopards do not generally specialize in hunting eagles, they go after them when hungry or desperate.
When food resources are limited, these big cats invade eagle nests for an easy meal. Even with the eagle’s strength and quick reflexes, a surprise ambush will give the feline an edge.
Wolves are apex predators in areas where eagles live, such as North America and Eurasia.
These strong animals can easily take down large prey like eagles and other large birds or prey.
Wolves typically hunt in packs and have excellent hearing and a sense of smell, which they use to track their prey.
Eagles can sometimes fight back against a single wolf but are often no match for a pack. Wolves can also climb trees and reach an eagle’s nest.
Wolves generally attack young or weak eagles but prefer smaller prey such as rabbits, deer, and rodents.
Mountain lions, also known as cougars, pumas, or panthers, are the natural predators of eagles.
They typically hunt at night and are known to kill and eat small-sized eagles. They can also consume adult eagles if they’re weak or injured.
It’s estimated that mountain lions account for over half of North America’s predatory deaths of young eagles.
Mountain lions are ambush predators and use the element of surprise to catch their prey. They typically stalk their prey from a distance and then quickly pounce on them.
Bears are among the most formidable predators of eagles and other large birds. Most species of bear are omnivorous and capable of killing and eating eagles.
Generally, larger eagles, like Bald Eagles, can defend themselves against bears, although smaller eagles, such as golden eagles, may be vulnerable.
Sometimes, bears also eat eagle’s eggs, making it difficult for these birds to reproduce in areas where bears are present.
Brown bears consume eagle chicks, black bears consume medium-sized eagles, and grizzlies are generally dangerous predators and occasionally consume large eagles.
If a bear gets too close to an eagle’s nest, the bird may fly off and abandon its nest.
Coyotes are often considered a major predator of eagles, especially when food is scarce.
They’re well adapted to hunting in the daylight and during the night. They can run up to 40 miles per hour, making it difficult for most eagles to escape their clutches.
When they capture an eagle, they consume it on the spot or carry it to their den. Coyotes will also scavenge the remains of dead eagles.
In addition to preying on birds, coyotes compete with eagles for food, such as small mammals and reptiles.
Eagles usually stay away from coyotes as much as possible, but when the two species come into contact, the birds use their strength to fly off quickly.
Raccoons are opportunistic and can attack and eat adult bald eagles. These animals have strong jaws and sharp claws used to rip apart prey and enjoy the meal.
Even though raccoons can catch an adult injured or weak eagle, this isn’t a common occurrence because of the size difference between the two animals.
Raccoons also scavenge carrion and may occasionally feed on a dead eagle. These animals can climb trees and access nests that contain eggs or young eagles.
Foxes are a common predator of eagles, especially smaller species like the Golden Eagle.
They typically hunt for small mammals and birds but may go after larger prey like eagles when their usual prey is scarce.
Generally, foxes attack young or adult eagles and take eggs from nests when food is scarce.
Although larger eagles like the Bald Eagle can usually defend themselves from foxes, they’re still vulnerable to ambush attacks.
Great Horned Owls
Great Horned Owls are natural enemies of eagles that kill and carry prey up to twice their size. They have a wingspan of up to five feet and weigh up to five pounds.
These owls hunt primarily at night and eat almost anything they can catch, from rodents to other birds, fish, and small mammals.
Sometimes they may hunt larger prey like deer and eagles, especially when food is scarce.
Great Horned Owls have an impressive array of weapons: sharp talons, razor-sharp beaks, and exceptional eyesight.
They usually hunt eagles by ambushing them in the air and taking advantage of their superior agility.
While crocodiles may not be the most common of the eagle’s adversaries, they still pose a serious threat.
Crocodiles primarily hunt by ambush. They wait for their prey in the water and launch a surprise attack.
Eagles, especially Bald Eagles, spend much of their time near bodies of water hunting for fish or other small prey, making them particularly vulnerable to ambush from crocodiles.
Wolverines are fierce hunters and scavengers. Their large teeth and long claws make them formidable opponents.
Despite their size, they can take down prey much larger than themselves. They can kill full-grown eagles and sometimes feed on the carcass.
These animals often raid bird nests for eggs or chicks and can cause significant damage to an eagle’s nest and disrupt their breeding cycle.
Vultures are one of the most notorious predators of eagles. While they’re not the most direct predators of eagles, vultures often take advantage of already-dead eagles.
Vultures usually stay away from live eagles and other large birds to avoid a deadly fight.
However, if an eagle has been killed, sick, or injured, vultures will take advantage of the situation and prey on the eagle.
FAQs About What Eats Eagles
What is the biggest threat to eagles?
The biggest threat to eagles is human interference, not the predators that hunt them for food.
Human activity destroys natural habitats, forcing eagles to compete for resources in increasingly limited spaces.
Poaching/illegal hunting and pesticide use also put eagles at risk. Human-induced accidents, such as collisions with vehicles or power lines, also affect eagle populations.
These threats contribute to the dwindling number of eagles worldwide and make them vulnerable to the abovementioned predators.
What kind of animals can kill an eagle?
The most common threats to eagles include snakes, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and other birds.
In some cases, eagles may attack and kill each other if food is scarce or nesting sites are too close.
Large birds like owls, vultures, and hawks can take down smaller eagles in a fight, especially when competing for resources.
Can a Dog Kill an Eagle?
Unfortunately, no, a dog can’t kill an eagle. Eagles are much larger than most dogs, possessing powerful talons and beaks that can do serious damage.
Moreover, eagles have sharp vision and superior flying abilities, giving them a distinct advantage in any confrontation with a dog.
However, large breeds of dogs can pose a threat to an eagle. Dogs like Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Mastiffs can injure or kill an eagle if given the opportunity.