Bald Eagle eating another Bald Eagle

Alex Lamoreaux9 Comments

WARNING: The following photos may be disturbing to some viewers!

My friend Cory Ritter sent me the following photos. His mother was behind their house near the Rainbow Flowage in Oneida County, Wisconsin and came across an adult Bald Eagle sitting on the ground feeding from something. They were right near a nest that has been in use for the past few years by various eagle couples. The adult eagle flew up to a stump, where she was able to take a few photos. The adult eagle refused to fly away, even when they approached very close. Then she went over to see what the eagle was feeding on. The eagle’s prey turned out to be another eagle! They sent the photos to me for verification and I really couldnt believe it, but sure enough the dead bird looks to be a juvenile Bald Eagle.

So, the big question is; what was this eagle doing eating another eagle? Did it kill the juvenile? If so was it a relative or an intruder?

Or, was the juvenile eagle killed some other way and the adult eagle was just taking advantage of a free meal? I have seen lots of eagles feeding on carrion, but to eat one of its own species seems strange. However, there are a few instances of raptors eating their own kind, for instance King Vulture, Black Vulture, and Prairie Falcon.

Take a look at the photos and let me know what you think.

The adult Bald Eagle after it was scared off its food.

Another shot of the adult Bald Eagle after it was scared off its food.

The dead juvenile Bald Eagle.

A close-up of the dead juvenile Bald Eagle.

  • Cory

    that’s pretty insane, my vote goes to scavenge….but regardless very interesting and impressive.

  • Would eagles attack a bird from another family? It’s probably just scavenging.

  • It would be interesting to know how many eagles are in that area. I’ve seen eagles get pretty aggressive with each other and its not hard to imagine a fatality resulting from the fighting, especially if food is scarce.

    • T_lcerny

      There is a lot of eagles in this area. I’ve seen a mom and 3 babies behind the house lots of times! They will even land in trees in our backyard. I wouldn’t think food is scarce. In the winter when ice fishing if we leave northerns on the ice and the eagles will come and get them right in front of us!

  • Randy Flament

    I know of an instance, several winters ago, of an adult female Coopers Hawk, killing and eating an adult male Coopers Hawk, within the city limits of Dubois, Pa…………

    The weather was severe, but there are/were plenty of pigeons available……..

  • PattiO

    I’ve been watching eagle nests online for almost 5 years – never saw one bring another dead eagle to the nest! I did however see a dear head in a nest in Iowa about 2 years ago! It’s actually the nest featured on the PBS special, the American Bald Eagle … which, by the way will be aired again on January 2nd!!

    Best of luck to you Drew in your studies!! I’m not far away from you … Scranton, PA!

  • a sad but natural fact of life in the wild. RIP baby eagle.

  • Rob

    I know that this wasn’t a nestling, but many raptors and specifically eagles will eat the youngest nestling if food resources are tight. Some eagles are considered obligates in fledging only one young, thus eating the other. There are multiple accounts of Northern Goshawks eating others including – female eating mate, and fledglings eating father (When the father was compromised in a trap; Kenward 2006). We view it as evil, but most life views it as a resource.

  • Anna Fasoli

    Well the juvenile still has its eye…so this means its a pretty fresh kill. Doesn’t prove the adult killed it, though, just that either he did, or he just got to it first.