Predator Vs. Prey: Bald Eagle vs. Gizzard Shad

By | January 1, 2015
From Xplor: January/February 2015

Following the Food

Missouri is one of America’s hottest eagle hangouts. Nearly 4,000 eagles spend their winters here. Look for them along Missouri’s big rivers, where they often fish from floating ice.

Perfect Predator

Bald eagles have massive hooked beaks for ripping apart fish and a windwhipping wingspan of more than 6 feet. Their eagle eyes can spot a meal on the move a mile away!

Talon Take-Out

Eagles dive into meals feet first. Flying almost level to the water, they snag fish with an outstretched talon that has 10 times the gripping strength of humans.

Strength in Numbers

Millions of shad live in Missouri’s rivers. That helps this fish family survive. Shad travel in large, constantly moving schools, leaping and skipping along. That’s why shad are nicknamed “skipjack.”

Boot Scootin´ Shad

In winter, gizzard shad seek out warmer surface water to feed on plankton. When spooked, they can dart the length of your room in less than a second.

and the winner is…

Once the eagle’s talons find their mark, our shad becomes a fish shadwich. Gizzard shad are one of the eagle’s favorite meals, sometimes accounting for nine out of 10 fish that eagles eat.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White