Eagles obtain food mainly in three ways – by capturing it, by stealing it, or by scavenging it. When securing their own live prey, they hunt from perches or soar over suitable habitat, taking most prey on the wing. Bald eagles’ preferred food is live fish, but they are opportunistic foragers; about 40 percent of their diet is composed of birds and mammals.
In winter, carrion becomes an especially important component. Leftover ice-fishing bait and/or rejected catches and roadkill are heavily used sources of food this time of year. If the carrion is small enough – like this opossum – it is often carried to a perch where it is inconspicuously eaten. Larger carrion that is too big to carry off is repeatedly visited until consumed.