Can Eagles Swim? (Answered)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Yes. The bald eagle is an excellent swimmer; swimming is not an unusual activity for eagles; the bald eagles are open water foragers that stay by the waterside to hunt for their food.

Their diets consist mainly of fish; when they spot fish movement, they will dive bb into the water with their paw outstretched to snatch the fish out of the water.

Just like flying, eagles are capable swimmers. Eagles have strong chest muscles, which were developed through flying. When swimming, they use their wingtips and push down in the water with their wings.

Although swimming is not something you might see an eagle often do, they are pretty proficient in swimming.

While eagles can moderately swim, they must be cautious as waterlogging is a real threat to them;

Eagles have learned to hunt near land for quick escape and safety if they find it difficult to fly out of the water.

What Makes Them Good Swimmers?

Can Eagles Swim

The Eagles are an Apex creature that has fascinated man over the centuries;

They combine both grace and power in the air but not so much in the water,

While it is known that eagles can easily pluck fish out of the water straight into the air, it is not entirely sure what happens when they are in the water for long needing to swim.

Eagles can swim only for a very short distance, they are not expert swimmers, and it is rare to see them swimming.

They only go far to swim when they are hunting fishes; with their thick feather, they can float on top of the water, they have a very clumsy style of swimming and can quickly drain if they are well too far from the shore.

Most people know that eagles can dive into the water for food, but they did not realize that eagles have a little swimming ability too.

Even though eagles can swim, it is not something you can regularly see, even if you stay close to a shoreline.

With their enormous wingspan and their flying abilities, and mighty chest muscles, they can brace swimming as those are the factors that aid them to swim to some degree.

They swim by using their wingtip to push down into the water, similar to how humans do the butterfly stroke.

While they can swim, under certain circumstances, they are at risk of getting drowned.

Eagles would never go on a casual swim in the water; they mostly prefer to be on dry surfaces than wet ones;

Eagles hate flying overseas or a large expanse of water, which makes their swimming ability even more surprising.

If you are fortunate enough to see an eagle swimming, it must either be that they are looking for food, trying to get food, or stuck in the water.

When swimming in the water, they can become waterlogged and get weighed, making it reasonably impossible to gain momentum and fly out of the water.

Here is an article I wrote on do eagles have teeth?

Can a Fish Drown An Eagle?

Yes. There are fish species capable of drowning an eagle; some reasons why eagles drown is when they latched on to a fish that they couldn’t entirely lift out of the water and were dragged under the surface with the fish.

Once an eagle is inside the water, it won’t be able to fly anymore, not until the feather dries off after it must have gotten out of the water; if the water is icy, hypothermia can set in.

It is not uncommon to see eagles misjudge prey and latch onto fishes that are too heavy to lift and cannot swim to the shore, thereby leading them to drown.

So yes, a fish too large enough for an eagle to lift can end up drowning an eagle in the water; there are many recorded scenarios to justify this claim.

Can Eagles Fly When Wet?

Yes and No. An eagle cannot fly after it gets truly wet; it must dry out its feathers before it can fly as they get heavy when wet.

The only exception to an eagle flying when wet is only if the eagle is traveling through some rain; however, they do not fully have waterproof wings, so if their wings get soaked thoroughly, they will find it challenging to fly, and they will plummet to the ground.

Very few birds can fly in the rain, mainly because of their feathers, and they will find it challenging to maintain flight when wet.

Even though eagles have got stronger wings and can fly through the rain, they, however, do not have the instinct to do so, more so to fly higher during the rainstorm, most especially when there is nothing up there for them to feed on.

Also check out this article I wrote I wrote on do eagles have hair?

Can Eagles Dive Underwater?

The bald eagle most significantly has been known to dive-bomb water for their meal; it is truly a sight to behold.

The bald eagle is an impressive sight regardless of if they are in flight or non-flight; they command attention when they fly or bomb dive; they are a large and majestic bird to lay your eyes on.

Like most animals, the eagles opt for prey that is easy to catch, and bald eagles are opportunistic feeders; they will go after what is readily available and often include fishes, among other things.

The African eagle is found near a large expanse of water, and anywhere fish are abundant; they are large birds with a wingspan that is the same height as a tall man standing at six feet.

Eagles can dive into the water for food, but they do not stay long underwater.

Can Eagles See Underwater?

Yes, Eagles, at a young age, cannot locate fish below the water due to refraction error of the eye.

As they grow older, the error naturally corrects and spot fishes below the surface.

An eagle’s eye is one of the sharpest eyes in the animal kingdom; their eyesight is estimated to be 4 or 8 times more potent than that of the average human; with their eyes, Eagles can identify and locate their prey even if hidden.


Eagles have remarkable eyesight capabilities; they are an incredible beauty and powerful prey birds.

During motion, the bald eagle can keep its head still; this allows the eye to maintain its laser focus on prey below, even during complex flight maneuvers such as diving.

Eagles use their wings just like oars to slowly move through the water; before they can fly, forgetting their branch soaked through, they would have to dry out their feathers first.

Eagles have drowned while having encounters with fish or if they find it challenging to swim far enough to reach the shore.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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