Bald eagle makes the catch of the day

November 21, 2014, 1 p.m.
Bald eagle ascends after pulling a fish from the lower Susquehanna.
Photo: Gregory Johnston/Shutterstock

With eyesight about five times stronger than our own, bald eagles start the hunt by scanning the water for fish.

When one is spotted, the eagle swoops in at a low angle and snatches the fish with razor-sharp talons and strong toes covered with rough bumps that help it grip the slick fish. A bald eagle can lift as much as four pounds. If a fish weighs more than that, an eagle has two choices: let go, or try to swim with the fish to shore. Sometimes the second option works out in their favor, since bald eagles are also strong swimmers. However, it's a risk with sometimes deadly consequences.

The raptors only score a fish in an estimated one out of 18 attempts, so to save energy or simply have an easier time getting food, they will steal fish from other eagles, and even mammals — including human fishermen. As expert at catching fresh fish as they are at pirating fish from others, bald eagles know how to put a meal on the table.