I could’ve gone my entire life without knowing that bald eagles can swim. I would’ve been too embarrassed to ask. But lo and behold, a Twitter user boating in Minnesota just so happened to capture footage of an eagle swimming in the St. Croix River.
Of course, we’re all familiar with the majestic bald eagle. A symbol of strength, freedom, and national pride in the United States, bald eagles are known for their distinctive white head and tail feathers, which they develop as they mature. They don’t hatch with that beautiful white head, immature bald eagles have brown plumage and are often confused with hawks or falcons.
One of the largest birds of prey in North America, they typically have a wingspan ranging from 6 to 7 feet and can weigh between 6 and 14 pounds. They typically can be found near water, and there’s goo reason for that… they love some fish. They are opportunistic predators that will also eat other birds, as well as small mammals, and scavenge for carrion.
They use their insane vision to spot fish from high above, and then dive down at lightning speeds with those razor sharp talons to snag a fish swimming just below the surface. But sometimes, their eyes might be a little bigger than their muscles.
Exhibit A: This seemingly injured eagle was floating about, rather sheepishly making its way to shore in the St. Croix River, which forms the northern border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. A great fishery, you can find everything from smallmouth and walleye to pike, muskie, and plenty of catfish.
But as it turns out, this eagle wasn’t injured at all… no this eagle has a massive muskie in his talons, a muskie too big to lift out of the water and fly away with. So rather than hunting for a smaller fish, one that he could gracefully dive bomb, rip clean out of the water, and fly off into the wild blue yonder, this bad, bad mf’er dragged the live fish all the way to shore and ate him right there.
Nature is ruthless and equally as mesmerizing. Need any proof? Watch this bald eagle coming in hot to drown a whitetail fawn
According to MeatEater, the video was captured at Lake Noquebay in Marinette County, Wisconsin. A professor of conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told MeatEater contributor Pat Durkin that this eagle most likely has attacked fawns before
“Birds of prey learn quickly. In falconry, falconers often encourage their birds to go after prey that’s a little bit bigger and more difficult to capture in the wild.
Once they learn how to do it, they’ll keep doing it.”
We can see a young whitetail fawn swimming in the shallow shoreline waters of the lake when a bald eagle drops in and lands right on its back. With its sharp talons piercing the back of the helpless fawn, the eagle pushes it deeper into the water, drowning its next meal.
After the eagle drowned the fawn and dragged it to shore, it came back to chow down over the next few days… until there was nothing left.
Just a little bit of hair left on that fawn.
Bald Eagle Steals A Fish Straight From The Hook
Anybody that likes to fish has experienced “the one that got away.”
A fish that hits the lure hard and fights tough but ultimately never winds up in the net, hauled ashore, or pulled into the boat. Sometimes the line breaks, sometimes the hook slides out of its mouth, and sometimes a bald eagle swoops down, grabs the fish with its talons, and flies off into the wind to eat your fish.
Getting robbed by a bald eagle is exactly what happened to a fly fisherman near Sitka, Alaska, earlier this summer. The angler was reeling in an Arctic char on a picturesque wilderness stream when a bald eagle swooped down from the trees, snatched the char, and took off for the sky.
The guy holding the rod could do nothing but stand there in awe as the line unspooled rapidly off of the reel. The eagle eventually ripped the fish right off the hook, and the fisherman found some solace in the fact that the eagle ripped the fish clean off the hook, so at least it didn’t steal his fly too.
His disbelief at what he was witnessing is exhibited perfectly exhibited by his colorful language. I imagine losing the fish is worth capturing incredible footage like this on camera.
Bald eagles are more prevalent in Alaska than anywhere else in the world. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the state is home to an estimated 30,000 of the birds.
While the bald eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782, the species has been a spiritual symbol for Alaska Natives for far longer than that.
Eagles are primarily fish eaters, and Alaska’s widespread waterways and world-class fisheries offer excellent habitat and provide abundant food sources for the birds, which is why the state is home to such robust eagle populations.