Eagle Fish fetching fish

12 Birds of Prey That Eat Fish (with Photos, ID & Info)

Birds of prey, or raptors, are often thought to be primarily carnivorous animals. However, the term ‘raptor’ encompasses many species that eat fish as well as other types of meat. This article includes photos and information on 12 birds of prey that also eat fish.​​​​​​​

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle
Image by Nadeem Saleem from Pixabay

Bald Eagles are large birds of prey that eat fish as part of their diet. They mainly hunt fish in the water, but they will also feed on carrion if necessary. Bald Eagles are large birds with a wingspan up to 7 feet across and weigh 8-14 pounds when fully grown.

The bald eagle has been observed feeding on anything from crabs to ducks, however, its primary food source is live fish which it catches by swooping down at the surface and grabbing them with its talons.

  • Length: 27.6-37.8″ in. (70-96 cm).
  • Weight: 105.8-222.2 oz. (3000-6300 g).
  • Wingspan: 78-80.5″ in. (198.1-204.5 cm).
  • Range: North America, Central America and into northern South America. ​​​​​​​
  • Habitat: Near freshwater sources or saltwater coasts, along the shoreline of estuaries and other wetlands, around inland lakes and reservoirs, on offshore islands without fresh water sources, coastal lagoons and bayous.​​​​​​​
  • Diet: Mainly of fish, but they will also eat birds, small mammals and carrion. ​​​​​​​

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African Fish Eagle ​​​​​​​

African Fish Eagle
Image by Freizeitheld from Pixabay

African Fish Eagles are huge birds that prey on fish. They are skilled at diving for fish in rivers, lakes, or oceans. African Fish Eagles are found in Africa, mainly in the tropical rainforest regions south of the Sahara Desert, but they have also been seen in coastal areas near water sources. 

The adult bird has a wingspan of up to six feet (1.8 meters) and feeds mostly on small fish like mullet or carp, which it captures by dive-bombing into the water from heights.​​​​​​​

  • Length: 29.5-33.5″ in. (75-85 cm).
  • Weight: 70.0-88.2 oz. (1985-2500 g).
  • Wingspan: 67.0-79.0″ in. (170.2-200.7 cm).
  • Range: US and Canada, with isolated populations in Central America, South America and Asia​​​​​​​.
  • Habitat: Coastal wetlands, desert areas, grasslands, forests and mountainsides. ​​​​​​​
  • Diet: Mainly of fish such as herring or smelt, but they will also eat other animals such as snakes or lizards​​​​​​​

Gray-headed Fish Eagle

Gray-headed Fish Eagle
Photograph By: Simi PIXAHIVE

The Gray-headed Fish Eagle is a large bird of prey found in Eastern Asia. The eagle prefers freshwater habitats with plenty of vegetation and an abundance of fish, small animals such as frogs, rodents, and other birds.​​​​​​​ It hunts by watching from a high perch until it spots its prey below.

Then the eagle swoops down to capture the animal with its talons or to grab it in its large beak. The bird will then fly back up into a tree, where it can eat at leisure without fear of being disturbed by any other creatures on the ground.​​​​​​​

  • Length: 24-29.5″ in. (61-75 cm).
  • Weight: 56.5-95.5 oz. (1601.7-2707.3 g).
  • Wingspan: 60-67.0″ in. (152.4-170.2 cm).
  • Range: Broad range across Asia including all of China, Mongolia, Russia, and parts of Africa.​​​​​​​
  • Habitat: Open grasslands to mountain forests, but prefers locations near water sources such as lakes or rivers.​​​​​​​
  • Diet: Mainly of fish, but it will also eat waterfowl, small mammals such as rabbits or mice, reptiles such as snakes or lizards, birds including seagulls or ducks. ​​​​​​​

Steller’s Sea Eagle

Steller’s Sea Eagle
Image by Per Buer from Pixabay

The Steller’s Sea Eagle,  is one of the largest fish-eating raptors that can be found in lives in coastal regions of Russia, and the Aleutian Islands, as well as other parts of Eastern Asia. Roughly 80% of their diet is fish, such as salmon and trout, and the rest is waterbirds like geese, ducks, swans, gulls, herons.

This majestic creature​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ has a wingspan of up to 7 feet! That means they can easily grab their prey out of the air or plunge into the water to catch their meal. ​​​​​​​

  • Length: 34.0-42.0″ in. (86.4-106.8 cm).
  • Weight: 218-335.1 oz.(6,195 to 9,500 g)​​​​​​​.
  • Wingspan: 78.7-98.4″ in. (200-250 cm).
  • Range:  Pacific, North America and Eurasia.​​​​​​​
  • Habitat: Usually coastal regions near the ocean or inland forested areas​​​​​​​.
  • Diet: Salmon, sea urchins, eels, squid, crabs​​​​​​​, and animals such as rabbits and water birds.​​​​​​​

Indian Spotted Eagle

Indian-spotted Eagle
Image by Sandeep Handa from Pixabay

The Indian Spotted Eagle is a large bird of prey, found mainly in southern Asia, including parts of China, Thailand, Myanmar and India. Indian spotted eagles are mostly seen near wetlands, rivers, swamps and mangroves.

They feed on other birds like crows, quails and pigeons; reptiles such as snakes; mammals like rats; insects like beetles; eggs from various waterfowls including ducks and coots; small fish like carp which they catch while soaring over water bodies.​​​​​​​

  • Length: 23–28.3″ in. (59–72 cm).
  • Weight: 56.4-88.2 oz. (1599-2500 g).
  • Wingspan: 61.8-70.9″ in. (157–180 cm).
  • Range: Pakistan to Myanmar and Bangladesh with a patchy distribution across India and Sri Lanka.​​​​​​​
  • Habitat: Woodlands and scrub forests near water sources.​​​​​​​
  • Diet: Fish such as carp, small mammals, birds and reptiles.​​​​​​​

White-tailed Eagle

White-tailed Eagle
Image by Per-Arne Larsen from Pixabay

The White-tailed Eagle is the largest bird of prey in North America. It has a wingspan that can reach 7 feet and can weigh up to 14 pounds. The white-tailed eagle’s habitat ranges from Canada to Mexico, with nesting grounds primarily in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

They are also found in Europe and Asia. Their diet consists mainly of fish, which they are able to catch because their powerful talons are well adapted for catching fish out of the water or on land.​​​​​​​

  • Length:  26 to 37.4″ in. (66 to 95 cm).
  • Weight: 141.5-180.5 oz. (4011.5-5117.0 g).
  • Wingspan: 70.1-96.5″ in. (178.1-245.1 cm).
  • Range: Europe, North America and parts of Asia. 
  • Habitat: Coastal areas to mountainous regions, where it nests on cliffs or trees near water sources​​​​​​​.
  • Diet: Mainly of fish, mammals, reptiles and birds.​​​​​​​

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
Image by GeorgeB2 from Pixabay

The Red-tailed hawk is a bird of prey found throughout North America and has been introduced to South America as well. It breeds from Canada to Central Mexico and can be found up to 2000 meters above sea level in the Rocky Mountains.

They live near water sources such as rivers, lakes or coasts because they eat fish and other aquatic animals that live there,​​​​​​​ as well as small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, squirrels and hares; however they will also eat birds (mostly pigeons), reptiles and insects.​​​​​​​

  • Length: 19.7-26.0″ in. (50-66 cm).
  • Weight: 31.8-51.5 oz. (900-1460 g).
  • Wingspan: 44.9-52.5″ in. (114-133.4 cm).
  • Range: North America, Central America and northern South America. ​​​​​​​
  • Habitat: Open country with scattered trees like fields or pastures, marshes and wet meadows.​​​​​​​
  • Diet: Fish, small mammals, reptiles, birds and large insects such as grasshoppers.​​​​​​​

Related Post: Interesting Red-tailed Hawk Facts

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk
Image by Peter Benoit from Pixabay

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a bird that lives in the Eastern United States. The red-shouldered hawk can be found throughout most of the Eastern US, excluding Florida and California. They are usually seen near woodlands, marshes, prairies and even suburbs with lots of trees. 

This bird’s diet consists mainly of small mammals such as rabbits or squirrels, but they will also eat birds if there are any around to catch.​​​​​, and occasionally fish.

  • Length: 16.8-24.2″ in. (42.7-61.5 cm.)
  • Weight: 17.1-27.3 oz. (485-775 g).
  • Wingspan: 37.0-44.1″ in. (94-112 cm).
  • Range: Eastern United States from Florida to Canada along the Atlantic coast and Pacific coast respectively.​​​​​​​
  • Habitat: Forests, open country, coastal areas and swamps. ​​​​​​​
  • Diet: Rodents, frogs, lizards, snakes, fish and insects.​​​​​​​

Related Post: Interesting Facts About Red-Shouldered Hawks

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon
Image by Iulian Ursache from Pixabay

The Peregrine Falcon is a migratory bird of prey found in North America, Europe and Asia. The range for the species extends from Alaska to New Zealand and includes all continents except Antarctica. Peregrines inhabit most types of land habitats, from mountain ranges to lowland marshes, but they prefer rugged areas where their prey lives, such as coastal cliffs or craggy mountainsides.

They live near water for fishing and hunting purposes, but avoid forests because they do not like trees Their diet consists mainly of other birds, but they will also eat small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish if given the opportunity. 

  • Length: 13.8-19.7″ in. (35-50 cm).
  • Weight: 18.6-56.4 oz (528-1600 g).
  • Wingspan: 39.4-44.1″ in. (100-112 cm).
  • Range: North America, Europe and Asia. ​​​​​​​
  • Habitat: Mountains, grasslands, forests and wetlands​​​​​​​.
  • Diet: Small birds, but they also eat bats, small mammals, fish and insects if necessary.​​​​​​​

Related Post: What is the fastest bird in the world

Western Osprey

Western Osprey
Image by Ray Miller from Pixabay

The Western Osprey is a large bird of prey that can be found from the west coast of North America to South America, and have been spotted as far south as Chile. They are commonly seen along waterways, shorelines and near coastal cities such as Los Angeles.

In inland areas, they may also be found around lakes or rivers with fish populations, including the Great Lakes region in the United States.​​​​​​​ They typically hunt for fish or other water-dwelling animals near bodies of water, which they either swoop down to catch with their talons​​​​​​​.

  • Length: 20.9-22.8 in (53-58 cm).
  • Weight: 49.2-70.5 oz (1395-2000 g).
  • Wingspan: 60.0-71.0 in (152.4-180.3 cm)​​​​​​​.
  • Range: Most parts of Canada and the United States​​​​​​​.
  • Habitat: Rivers, lakes, coastal areas and other wetland habitats.
  • Diet: Mainly fish, but will also feed on insects, small mammals and birds when needed.​​​​​​​

Related Post: 18 Fun Facts About Ospreys

Snowy Owl​​​​​​​

The Snowy Owl is a bird of prey and the heaviest owl in North America. The range for this species stretches from Alaska to Newfoundland and as far south as the Northern states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

They can also be found in Ontario, Quebec and parts of eastern Canada.​​​​​​​ They also have a varied diet that includes animals such as mice, voles, lemmings, squirrels, and even fish.​​​​​​​

  • Length: 20.5-28.3 in (52-72 cm).
  • Weight: 56.4-104.4 oz (1600-2960 g).
  • Wingspan: 49.2-57.1 in (125-145 cm).
  • Range:  Arctic regions of North America, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and Siberia.
  • Habitat: Open fields or marshes. ​​​​​​​
  • Diet: Lemmings, hares, voles, ptarmigans and other small mammals like squirrels or groundhogs as well as fish such as trout and smelt.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk
Image by Erik Karits from Pixabay

The Northern Goshawk is a large raptor in the family Accipitridae. It ranges from Alaska to Newfoundland and south to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida. Their habitat includes forests or other wooded areas where they can find food such as small mammals, deer, rodents and rabbits.

The northern goshawk’s diet also includes smaller birds such as American robins, sapsuckers, crows, woodpeckers and even the occasional fish.

  • Length: 20.9-25.6 in (53-65 cm).
  • Weight: 22.3-48.1 oz (631-1365 g).
  • Wingspan: 40.2-46.1 in (102-117 cm).
  • Range: Canada and the northern United States, but also in the highlands of Mexico.​​​​​​​
  • Habitat: Forests, open country and near water sources.​​​​​​​
  • Diet: Fish, rodents, snakes, lizards, rabbits, squirrels​​​​​​​.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is a bird of prey that feeds on fish?

Osprey is a bird of prey that feeds on fish. They live all over the world except Antarctica and eat most types of fish, but they seem to prefer larger fish like trout or carp.

What bird eats big fish?

Sea eagles and ospreys are two of the most common types of birds that eat big fish. Ospreys typically feed on small to medium-sized fish, but have been observed catching a salmon as large as 8 pounds (3.6 kg). Sea eagles feed on various sizes of prey depending on what is available in their habitat.

Do hawks prey on fish?

Do hawks prey on fish?  Yes, hawks our opportunistic hunters, and will occasionally hunt and eat fish. However, they prefer to hunt for other types of prey like mammals or reptiles. They usually feed on them when other food sources are scarce.

What birds eat fish out of ponds?

Many birds feed on fish out of ponds, and the majority of these are waterfowl. Waterfowl, herons, cranes, gulls, terns, kingfishers and cormorants hunt for fish in ponds. Herons and egrets will walk on the shore or edge of a pond looking for any movement that may indicate a fish. Cormorants dive underwater to catch their prey.

Does a heron eat mainly fish?

A heron is a type of bird that typically eats fish. This includes small, medium and large sized fish. However, they also eat frogs, snakes and insects. These are just some examples of what they may find in their diet on any given day.