The Life of an Eagle from Birth to Death (Photos and Videos)

One of the largest and most deadly birds of prey is the eagle. They are known as the “king of all birds,” and they are truly majestic animals.

It’s no wonder the United States chose the bald eagle as its national bird. The eagle has continued to symbolize freedom, power, and greatness. Hence, in this article, we’re going to explore the Life of an Eagle from birth to death.

Eagles are from the same taxonomic family as another common bird of prey, the hawk. There are over sixty to sixty-eight species of the eagle, which are a part of the family Accipitridae, which includes a large number of diurnal birds of prey.

The majority of eagle species are found in Eurasia and Africa. Only 14 species can be found outside of this region: two in North America, nine in Central and South America, and three in Australia.

What makes eagles so fascinating is how powerful they truly are. They are one of the strongest and most resilient birds and most fierce hunters and they are known as one of the apex predators in the entire animal kingdom.

They have even been known to consume large prey such as monkeys, antelopes, and sloths. Compared to humans, they have a vision four to eight times greater. Even though most eagles only weigh around 10 pounds, their eyes are the same size as a human’s!

Eagles, depending on the species, typically have an average lifespan of 14 to 35 years in the wild and 70 years after rebirth. They have a particularly long lifespan when compared to the lifespan of other birds.

As one of the most admired, well-protected, and powerful birds, you may have always wanted to learn more about them! If that’s the case, then stick around; you’re at the right place. Let’s find out more about the eagle’s lifespan and uncover just how long eagles live.

The Life of an Eagle

Eagle Lifespan

Just as stated above eagles are of diverse species and their life expectancy varies between the species. Here are a few notable species of the eagle and their lifespan

  • Bald Eagle
  • Harpy Eagle
  • Golden Eagle

i. Bald Eagle

The bald eagle has an average lifespan of 15- 30 years in the wild and up to 70 years after rebirth. According to The Journal of Wildlife Management, bald eagles 3-5 years old experience the highest mortality rates. However, there have been accounts of the oldest living bald eagle making it 38 years old.

The Bald Eagle
Source: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

ii. Harpy Eagle

The harpy eagle’s lifespan is estimated to be 25-35 years in the wild. There are less than 200 harpy eagles in captivity. Concerning the lifespan of the species in captivity, there has been difficulty faced in the estimation due to their limited number.

Photo: Marky Prior

iii. Golden Eagle

The golden eagle’s lifespan is up to 30 years in the wild and 68 years in captivity.

Tonka the Golden Eagle can be seen at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Eagle Rebirth

 This is the time an eagle reaches the age of 30-40, its physical condition begins to deteriorate to the point that survival becomes difficult, its talons lose their flexibility and cannot properly grip prey, its beak becomes dull and bent, and it’s wing feathers grow thick and heavy, sticking to its chest thereby reducing its flight.

So they had to choose either the path of death or the process of change for it to live longer.

In this change process, the eagle retreats to a mountaintop, where over five months it sequentially knocks off its beak by banging it against a rock, waits for its beak to grow, then plucks out its talons, and when the talons are grown, the eagle plucks out its heavy feathers.

After the feathers are grown, the eagle takes its flight to begin a whole new life with strength, vigour, and vitality. Going through these painful experiences and hard life produces a regrowth that “renews” the eagle and allows it to live for another 30 to 40 years.

The Rebirth of an Eagle

The Life of an Eagle from Birth to Death

Detailed below is the life cycle of an Eagle until the death stage

  • The Egg
  • Hatchlings
  • Fledglings
  • Juvenile Stage
  • Maturity
  • Mortality

1. The Egg

Eagles build their nests atop tall trees, high cliffs, and bluffs. The female usually lays a clutch of two to four eggs, though she can lay as many as four. She incubates the eggs for about 40 days by sitting on the nest to keep them warm.

Depending on the climate, the gestation period might range from 30 to 50 days. During this period, the male eagles take part in this stage by catching small mammals to feed to the nesting female.

2. Hatchlings

Once the eggs hatch open, the newly hatched eaglet’s survival depends on its place in the pecking order. The hatchling weighs about 3 ounces (85 grams). It might seem unfair, but the first hatchling has an advantage over its siblings.

The first hatchling to emerge from its egg has an age and size advantage over the others in the nest. It grows stronger faster and can compete more successfully for food.

Eaglets that hatched after the first one may go hungry if they are not tenacious and feisty enough to hold their food.

3. Fledglings

Young eagles will continue to live in their mother’s nest for 10 to 12 weeks before they “fledge” or leave the nest for the first time.

This period allows them to become fully feathered and grow large enough so that they can start hunting for food. Despite leaving the nest for the first time to hunt, the eaglets are still not old enough to live on their own.

The fledgling eaglet continues to return to the nest and stay around its parents for another month or more, learning how to hunt as well as refining its flying techniques.

It may beg for food as long as the adult birds are willing to feed it. Once an eaglet fledges and leaves the nest area for good, it starts its journey in the wild as a juvenile. At about 120 days after birth, the eaglets will finally be old enough to become independent.

4. Juvenile Stage

Once they are old enough to leave the nest, the eagle has entered its juvenile stage. Even though it is old enough to be on its own, there are still a lot of things for it to be concerned about.

Many eagles have the highest mortality rates around this stage of life. Once they are self-sufficient, juvenile eagles move to establish a winter home. They don’t have to migrate if the prey is plentiful, but they do have to scatter to locate a large enough region to maintain them.

In four to five years, the juvenile will reach maturity and finally become an adult. Until then, it may return to its birth nest from time to time.

5. Maturity

Once four to five years have passed, the eagle is finally an adult, they develop golden plumage on their heads and necks and reach a wing span of almost seven feet (2m).

Until then, it is possible to age the birds by their plumage. Eagles form mating pairs for life and build enormous nests up to 10 feet (3m) in diameter, weighing up to 2,000 pounds (907 kilos). The adult pairs have no natural predators except men and can live up to 30 years.

6. Mortality

An eaglet faces some of the earliest mortality dangers in the nest, including congenital deformities, predation, starvation, failure to thrive, and siblicide. 

Congenital deformities may mean that the eaglet cannot hunt properly, which can lead to early death.  There have also been instances of predators taking and harming or killing an eaglet from the nest such as raccoons, Great Horned Owls, or other large raptors. 

Failure to thrive happens when there isn’t a good food source, often affecting the youngest in a clutch, or even the older sibling killing the younger through aggression and competitiveness over food.

Other dangers can lead to the death of an eagle. Eagles can face electrocution going into power lines damage from wind turbines and even strikes with airplanes.  Parasites are another danger to eagles in the wild and can lead to death as well as sickness.

Eagles face many diseases in the wild, a few of the more well-known ones being West Nile Virus, Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu, and pox viruses, the latter causing blindness and potential beak and talon deformities. 

Accidents that happen on, or to the side of, roadways are another mortality cause, especially for younger eagles who live on carrion until they learn to hunt at about age three.

Eagles are also injured or killed in territorial fights, especially as the number of Bald Eagles has rebounded, and there is more density in nest areas with eagles migrating through, looking for nesting sites, and attempting to find mates.

Some of the more common enemies of Bald Eagles include humans, Great Horned Owls, other eagles and raptors, and raccoons and crows for Bald Eagle young and eggs.

12 Principles of an Eagle

There are a lot of principles to be learnt from an eagle which I’m going to share in this article. These principles are great and I want you to take note of them, they will help you achieve greatness.

  • Distinct Mindset
  • Focus
  • Always Look for the New
  • Learn to Face Challenges
  • Know Who You Trust
  • Always be Prepared for Change
  • Partnership
  • Consistency
  • Invest in Others
  • Utilize Challenges as Opportunities
  • Learn to Retreat to Rejuvenate
  • Be Tenacious and Fearless

1. Distinct Mindset

Eagles soar at high altitudes flying with other eagles, far away from other birds such as ravens and sparrows. This is to say your mindset will determine your association.

In your life, Stay away from narrow-minded people, people who do not share your ambitions, people who want to sabotage you and bring you down.

Keep good company, people of like mind and intuition, and live with people who encourage you. This principle also teaches you to be a leader just like an eagle is.

2. Focus

Eagles’ eyes are extremely powerful. It is estimated that the wedge-tailed eagle has a visual acuity twice that of a typical human. This acuity enables eagles to spot potential prey from a very long distance up to 5km away.

This keen eyesight is primarily attributed to their extremely large pupils which ensure minimal diffraction (scattering) of the incoming light. When an eagle sights his prey, he narrows his focus on it and sets out to get it. No matter the obstacles, the eagle will not move his focus from the prey until he grabs it

Have a vision and remain focused refuse to be distracted no matter what the obstacles you face, the circumstances notwithstanding remain focused, and don’t let anything move you, keep going and you will succeed.

3. Always Look for the New

Eagles do not eat dead things, they feed only on fresh prey. Vultures eat dead animals, but eagles will not. Be careful with what you feed your eyes and ears with, especially in movies and on television.

Stay clear of outdated and old information and always do your research well. Feed your mind with things that will help you grow rather than make you stagnant.  

Do not rely on your past successes and victories; keep looking for new frontiers to conquer. Leave your past where it belongs, in the past.

4. Learn to Face Challenges

Eagles love the storm. When the clouds gather, the eagles get excited. The eagle uses the storm’s wind to lift it higher. Once it finds the wind of the storm, the eagle uses the raging storm to lift him above the clouds.

The storm allows the eagle to glide and rest its wings. In the meantime, all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of trees. We can use the storms of life to rise to greater heights.

Achievers relish challenges and use them profitably. You have to face your challenges ahead, knowing that they will make you emerge stronger and better than you were.

Furthermore, in life, things beyond our control are bound to happen and when they do, most people are devastated but also hold the choice to either crash or come out strongly.

5. Know Who You Trust

The eagle tests before it trusts and mates. When a female eagle meets a male and they want to mate, she picks up a twig. She flies back into the air, sets the twig to fall to the ground, and watches it as it falls.

The male chases after the twig to catch it before it falls to the ground. He then brings it back to the female eagle. This goes on repeatedly for hours, with the height increasing until the female eagle is assured that the male eagle has mastered the art of catching the twig, which shows commitment.

Then and only then, will she allow him to mate with her. Whether in private life or business, one should test the commitment of people intended for partnership and relationships with them.

You can’t partner up with people who can’t commit; you’ll only be messing up your chances of a happy and successful life.

6. Always be Prepared for Change

When an eagle is ready to lay eggs, the female and male eagle identify a place very high on a cliff where no predators can reach.

The male flies to earth and picks thorns and lays them on the crevice of the cliff, then flies to earth again to collect twigs which he lays in the intended nest.

He flies back to earth and picks up thorns, laying them on top of the twigs. He flies back to earth and picks up soft grass to cover the thorns.

When this first layering is complete, the male eagle runs back to the ground and picks up more thorns, lays them on the nest, runs back to get grass to put on top of the thorns, and then plucks his feathers to protect it from possible intruders.

The preparation of the nest teaches us to prepare for change. Change is a constant phenomenon that is bound to occur at any stage in our lives. We should learn how to prepare for and adapt to change.

7. Partnership

Both male and female eagles participate in raising the eagle family. She lays the eggs and protects them; he builds the nest and hunts.

During the training of the young ones to fly, the mother eagle throws the eaglets out of the nest. Because they are scared, they jump into the nest again. Next, she throws them out and then takes off the soft layers of the nest, leaving the thorns bare.

When the scared eaglets again jump into the nest, they are pricked by thorns. Shrieking and bleeding they jump out again, this time wondering why the mother and father, who love them so much, are torturing them.

Next, the mother eagle pushes them off the cliff and into the air. As they shriek in fear, Father Eagle flies out and catches them up in his back before they hit the ground and bring them back to the cliff. This goes on for some time until they start flapping their wings. They get excited at this newfound knowledge that they can fly.

The preparation for family teaches us that the active participation of both partners leads to success. The eaglets being pricked by thorns tell us that sometimes being too comfortable where we are may result in our not experiencing life, not progressing, and not learning at all; in other words, we don’t grow.

The thorns of life come to teach us that we need to grow, get out of the nest, and live on. We may not know it but this seemingly comfortable and safe haven may have thorns.

The people who love us do not let us languish in sloth but push us hard to grow and prosper. Even in their seemingly bad actions, they have good intentions for us.

8. Consistency

Eagles are monogamous, they mate with the same partner for life. They are unwavering, they remain committed and consistent to their partner for life.

From this, we are to learn the lesson of being the same at all times without changing or vacillating, no matter the condition or the individuals who are involved. Learn to be consistent.

9. Invest in Others

Eagles invest in training others. Just like the mother and father eagles take out their time to train the eaglets, when the eaglets have grown, they are thrown out of the nest and the soft layering is removed.

They get pricked until they learn how to fly. This eagle’s principle tells us that we should be instrumental in helping others grow. Be a person of impact; make yourself available to get people walking out of their comfort zone to achieve greater accomplishments in life.

10. Utilize Challenges as Opportunities

Eagles possess vitality. They love storms. They become very eager and excited when clouds are cast in the sky and they use the wind to glide high in the sky when other birds hide in their nests and branches of trees. Eagles inspire human beings to come out of their comfort zone and accept challenges in life to rise higher.

11. Learn to Retreat to Rejuvenate

When the eagle feels that her feather is becoming weak and cannot fly as fast and as high as it should, he retires to a place far away, in the mountains.

While there, he plucks out the weak feathers on his body and breaks its beaks and claws against the rocks until he is completely bare; a very bloody and painful process.

Then he stays in this hiding place until he has grown new feathers, new beaks, and new claws, and then he comes out flying higher than before. This way of an eagle shows that, as human beings, we need to renew ourselves to avoid failure.

You just need to identify the things bringing you down, discard them, and start afresh. We also need to occasionally let things that burden us or add no value to our lives go.

12. Be Tenacious and Fearless

Eagles are tenacious and fearless. An eagle won’t ever give up on the size or strength of its prey. It will consistently give up the battle to win its prey or recover its territory and this inspires us not to be frightened of obstructions to achieving our goals.


Our perception is what makes us go from poor to powerful and if we start envisioning ourselves as the mighty and great eagles that we are, then we can be able to weather storms and come up top.

With all these principles, we must understand that it’s not all easy being an eagle but it’s worth it. From birth, it faces challenges that help it grow and help it become the strong bird that it is, so let’s also embrace the challenges coming our way and grow from them. Let’s become eagles and soar high above all!!

How do Eagles die naturally?

Natural death occurs after they reach the end of their lifespan or when they die of sickness. When eagles grow old, their bodies grow old, they become weak, and they die. Sickness such as the West Nile virus can still play a role in terminating the life cycle of an eagle.


Environmental Consultant at Environment Go! | + posts

Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.

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