The Life of an Eagle

This section is intended to answer our basic questions about the appearance, behavior, and needs of an eagle.

  1. How big is an eagle? Bald eagles: males 3.5 - 4 kg (8 - 9 lb.), females 4.5 - 6 kg (10 - 14 lb.).
  2. How much must the eagle eat to live? Eagles consume nearly 1/10 of own body weight per day. A bald eagle living exclusively on mallards (ducks) would require approximately 23 mallards per 100 days during winter to meet its dietary requirements, according to a study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  3. What do eagles eat? Bald eagles primarily eat fish. Bald eagles also rob ospreys of their fish catches. Besides live fish, bald eagles prey on other birds, small mammals, snakes, turtles, and crabs, and they readily eat carrion (decaying flesh).
  4. How much do eagles sleep, and when? Eagles sleep communally at night in their nests. Eagles awake early and are most active in the mornings.
  5. How long do eagles live? Bald eagles can live up to around 30 years, but the average lifespan is around 15 to 20 years.
  6. How far do eagles see? A bald eagle can see a rabbit moving from 1.5 km (1 mi) away. That means that an eagle flying at an altitude of 300m (984 ft) over open country could spot prey over an area of 8 square km (almost 3 square mi).
  7. How far can an eagle fly without resting? Eagles conserve energy by gliding in thermal wind currents achieving speeds of up to 80 km/hr (50 mph) and travelling up to 300 km (180 mi) per day. One eagle was known to log up to 435 km (270 mi) in one day, granted this was most likely during migration. Eagles have been measured at traveling 240 km/hr (150 mph) during a dive.
  8. How high can an eagle fly? An eagle can fly as high as 3,048m (10,000 ft).
  9. How much can an eagle lift/carry? An eagle can lift about half its own weight.
  10. Can eagles swim?! An eagle can swim to shore with its wings if it has caught a particularly heavy fish. A very heavy fish can cause the eagle to drown.
  11. Do eagle migrate? Some eagles migrate when their fishing waters freeze over. Others may migrate when their seasonal climate becomes too warm.
  12. What is the general habitat for an eagle? Bald eagles live near relatively large bodies of water, ie. large rivers and lakes with plenty of food or along shorelines.
  13. What is the territory for eagles? Does this vary much?
  14. Do eagles fight one another for mates?
  15. Is there a courtship ritual involved? Yes, and the aerial courtship is spectacular. When performing their courtship dance, the eagles fly so high that they are barely visible from the ground. They come together in the air and lock talons. The eagles somersault over and over as they fall. Just before they reach the ground, they let go and fly back into the sky.
  16. Will the mate sit on the eggs while the player eagle hunts, or should there be the option of sitting on the eggs onself while the mate hunts? This may complicate the game. In the real world, both sexes incubate but the female does the most. Eggs must incubate for 31 - 46 days (with eggs turned once per hour) until they hatch. We still need to decide how we will approach the brooding period.
  17. How much food do eaglets require to develop properly? Until someone finds otherwise, we must assume it's the same as an adult eagle: 1/10 of own body weight per day.
  18. When does a young eagle leave its nest? A young eagle leaves its parents at 16 - 22 weeks of age.