Fish-eating Birds

Several birds are piscivorous, i.e., they mainly thrive on fish. While the exact diets may vary depending on availability, fish-eating birds have developed behavioral and physical adaptations to aid their feeding efforts. Some birds dive underwater to feed, while others patiently wait on the shore and strike opportunistically.

Fish-eating Birds

List of Birds That Primarily Eat Fish

Species of BirdsType of Fish They Feed OnWhere Does it Live?
African Fish EaglePrimarily catfish and gray mullets; also characins, cichlids, lungfish, and tilapiasSub-Saharan Africa
American White PelicanCatfish, common carp, Lahontan tui chub, minnows, perch, salmon, shiners, and troutsThroughout North America
AnhingaBlack bass, catfish, chain pickerel, mullets, sunfish, and suckersCuba, Grenada, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, and parts of the United States
Atlantic PuffinCapelin, herring, sand eels, and spratsThroughout the Atlantic
Australian PelicanSpangled perch, goldfish, European carp, and European perchAustralia and New Guinea, also parts of Fiji and Indonesia
Bald EagleSalmon and troutThroughout North America
Belted KingfisherMummichogs, sticklebacks, stonerollers, and troutCanada and the northern United States
Black-faced SpoonbillMilkfish East Asia, including Vietnam, Macau, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan 
Black GuillemotArctic cod, blennies, butterfish, grubby, herrings, northern sandlance, ocean pouts, pollocks, pricklebacks, radiated shanny, and sculpinsArctic and the north Atlantic Oceans
Black SkimmerArgentine anchovies, bluefish, flathead mullets, mummichogs, and bay anchoviesThroughout North and South America
Brown PelicanHerring, minnows, mullets,  pigfish, pinfish, sardines, sheepshead, silversides, and topminnowsOff the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific Coasts in North and South America
Common TernBoarfish, bluejack mackerel, lanternfish, and trumpet fishThroughout North America and Europe
Dalmatian PelicanCatfish, common carp, common rudd, eels, European perch, mullets, and northern pikeThroughout central Eurasia, ranging from the Mediterranean in the west to the Taiwan Strait in the east
Emperor PenguinAntarctic silverfishAntarctica
Gray HeronBass, carp, flounders, goldfish, gunnels, minnows, perch, salmon, sculpin,  sticklebacks, etcThroughout Africa, Asia, and Europe
Great Blue HeronBass, flounders, gunnels, perch, sculpin, smelt, sticklebacks, etcThroughout North America
Great CormorantPrimarily wrasses; also  common soles, flathead, and  sand smeltAustralia, New Zealand, the Atlantic coast of North America
OspreyAmerican gizzard shad, bullheads, flounders, mullets, smelts, and suckersOn all continents except Antarctica
Pigeon GuillemotCapelin, cod, sandfish, and sculpins Northern Pacific
Red-throated LoonArctic char, brook, capelin, cod, herring, sandlance, sculpins, sticklebacks, and troutArctic regions of northern Eurasia and North America 
Shoebill StorkAfrican lungfish, catfish,  marbled lungfish, and Senegal bichirCentral Africa
Tufted PuffinCapelin, hake, herring, and sand eelsNorthern Pacific
Western Reef HeronAnchovies, gobies, and herringCoasts of West Africa, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf, Sri Lanka, and the Lakshadweep Islands, India


1. Which birds of prey eat fish?

Osprey, African Fish Eagle, Bald Eagle, etc.

2. How are the beaks of birds that eat fish shaped?

Some birds, like herons, have sharp pointed beaks to stab fish, while others, like pelicans, have large bills that form a “pouch” to catch fish.

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