Swimming with Eagles


Did you know eagles could swim? I didn't. At least not until we released an eagle at Portage Glacier about 2 years ago. He went to fly over the glacier lake and couldn't get enough lift. I don't know if there was a down draft or what. He flew in small circles for a little while and then he landed in the water. I was new to Bird TLC, so I thought we might need to do a water rescue. Then I was informed that eagles could swim. I thought they were pulling my leg, but when I looked back at the eagle, he was swimming. Kind of looked like a breast stroke. He swam quite a distance to the shore, and then perched on a rock. He stayed there a long time drying out and then took off for the wooded area. As cold as that glacier water was, no person could have swam that distance.

The following was taken from the Bald Eagle Foundation website.

Eating Habits

Eagles feed mainly on fish, but water fowl, small mammals and carrion supplement their diet, especially when fish are in short supply. Eagles can fly up to 30 m.p.h. and can dive at speeds up to 100 m.p.h. Their keen eyesight allows them to spot fish at distances up to 1 mile. Eagles swoop down to seize a fish in their talons and carry it off, but can only lift about five pounds. Under certain circumstances, eagles have been known to drown trying to lift a fish that weighed too much.

Bald Eagles have also been known to swim to shore with a heavy fish using their strong wings as paddles.

Bald Eagles are more abundant in Alaska than anywhere else in the United States with an estimated 50,000 birds – one out of every two bald eagles in North America.