American Eagle Foundation
VU Study » Survival

Eagle Survival

At least one bald eagle raised in captivity has lived over 50 years of age. The longest recorded age of a bald eagle in the wild is 39 years. For a species with no natural predators, the bald eagle fares rather badly in the wild. only approximately 50 percent of bald eagles survive their first year of hazards in the wild, after which about 90 percent survive each year.

The factors which influence the survival rate of the bald eagle depend greatly on its age. Before it even leaves the protection of its egg, the bald eagle faces many threats to survival in the wild - heat, cold, predators, poisoning, and other dangers. In fact, the successful hatching rate of bald eagle eggs is quite low.

For the hatchling, the first year of life is its most dangerous. In this period, the survival of juvenile eagles is the lowest of any other stage in its life. If it survives the competition for food among its own brothers and sisters, it still faces the challenges of learning to fly, hunt, and protect itself after it leaves the nest at the age of three months.

Should the eaglet make it through the first year, its chances of survival increase dramatically. However, the challenges to its existence include finding a reliable food source, a suitable territory for nesting, hunting, and roosting, and avoiding the threats posed by the bald eagle's worst enemy - man. The major threats from humans include destruction of the eagle's habitat, intentional and involuntary poisoning, shootings, and even electrocution.

If the bald eagle does survive, it performs a vital service for humans by taking its place in the chain of life. The bald eagle's function in nature supports the natural concept known as "survival of the fittest."

This section of the bald eagle site discusses its ecological niche, or function in nature, as well as its survival needs in terms of its diet, habitat, and protection. To learn more, select a topic from menu bar at the top of the page underneath the title, "Eagle Survival".