Bald and Golden Eagles

Hunters of the air

Yellowstone is home year-round to both golden eagles and bald eagles. These huge birds of prey are fast and agile in the air, hunting small mammals, waterfowl, fish (only bald eagles) and helping themselves to carrion.

Eagles pose little risk to healthy adult wolves but they could easily grab unguarded, young pups with their powerful feet and talons. Wolves can rarely catch cautious eagles.

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States. They were previously endangered but were delisted in 2007.

Bald eagles fish but they also keep an eye out for easy scavenging at carcasses.

Quick Facts

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Eagles live in pairs but may gather at plentiful food sources like carcasses. They spend much of their time soaring above or on high perches.

Bald eagles favor hunting fish and prefer to nest in tall trees near water.

Golden eagles prefer hunting small mammals in open land, nesting on cliffs or tall trees.

  • SIZE: 1.8 - 2.1m (6-7 foot) wingspans

  • SPEED: 48 kph (30 mph) using wing-beats. Bald eagles can dive at up to 160 kph (100 mph); golden eagles at up to 241 kph (150 mph).

  • DIET: Both eagles hunt and also eat carrion (they wouldn't pass up an untended wolf kill). Bald eagles eat more fish. Golden eagles hunt more rodents.

Bald eagle calling from perch

Bald eagles sound different in real life than in the movies where their voices are often dubbed by the red-tailed hawk's iconic cry to sound more majestic.

audio credit: NPS & MSU Acoustic Atlas/Jennifer Jerrett

Eagles in WolfQuest

Bald eagles join ravens to scavenge at caracasses. They will steer clear of your jaws (and are not edible).

In Slough Creek, you may hear golden eagle eagle screech or see its shadow before it swoops down on a pup.

In real life, eagles are not generally a huge problem for wolves. But they probably wouldn’t pass up an unprotected wolf pup meal.