Are Eagles Dangerous?

With their flesh-tearing beaks, gripping talons, and unparalleled hunting skills, eagles are anything but safe birds. You see, eagles have been observed to fight against all sorts of animals, from rabbits to grizzly bears. 

As if, they have no regard for their victim’s body size.


Eagles are indeed dangerous as well as somewhat unpredictable predators.

That said, eagles are often associated with freedom and pride.

Therefore, people often find it hard to assume that eagles can attack humans. 

Is An Eagle a Dangerous Bird?

Potentially, yes.

You see, an eagle is equipped with all the essential elements to become an invincible assassin (See figure 1).

Are Eagles Dangerous?

Figure 1: Eagles being the Dangerous and Intimidating Kings of Bird Family

Here’s how:

1. Muscular Legs And Gripping Talons

Like other raptors, eagles also use their feet and talons to hunt. 

An average eagle’s claws are slightly bigger than human hands, with three toes each.

Also, these are armed with 3-4 inches sharp but sturdy talons.

The legs are muscular with scaly skin.

These allow eagles to lift weights as well as control their claws with precision. 

An eagle can crush its victim’s bones merely with its gripping strength.

2. Hooked Beaks

Normally, an eagle’s beak is hooked and is about 2-3 inches long. 

While eagles mainly use their talons for hunting, their beaks are sharp and strong enough to tear through any flesh. 

Eagles use their beaks to tear away bite-sized meat chunks from their victims.

This is most prominent when eagles hunt hard-skinned reptiles like monitor lizards. 

These lizards are too rigid to be crushed with talons. And so, an eagle sits on them and eats them alive using its beak as a skewer through eyes or ears.

3. Eagle Eyes 

An eagle’s eyes are the most prominent features of its body. 

These eyes are enormous and fixed, though an eagle can focus on two different objects using its eyes.

Ornithologists estimate that,

An eagle can see about 4-8 times better than humans, focusing on objects farther than 2-miles away. 

Furthermore, eagles may be able to see colors beyond visible spectra.

Their eyes can likely observe more vivid colors compared to human eyes.


Camouflaging may not work much effectively against eagles. 

4. Body Size And Wingspans

A typical eagle is about 6-9 kgs in weight and can grow as tall as 3 feet.

Eagles have broad and long feathers, giving them a wingspan of about 2-3 meters wide. 

This huge wingspan allows eagles to soar on thermals and reach thousands of miles above the ground. 

Did you know, Eagles can lift a weight approximately equal to their body size.

For instance, harpy eagles are about 9 kgs in weight and mostly hunt monkeys weighing about 8kgs.

Since animals associate large size with dominance.

Therefore, a large volume allows eagles to appear fearsome and intimidating. 

5. Speed And Hunting Style

Eagles have adapted to dive at a 90 degrees angle, directly above their victims

While this maneuver allows eagles to surprise their victims and grab them before they run away, such a move can only work with speed. 

But, despite their large size and huge wingspans, eagles can manage great speeds. 

For instance, a bald eagle can fly as fast as 150km per hour, and it can dive at about 230km per hour. 

An eagle can catch its prey within a blink of an eye.

6. Hunting Instincts

Eagles have shown intelligent behaviors and superior hunting skills. 

For instance, golden eagles have been reported to hunt mountain goats.

They do so, by attacking a goat’s legs and making it stumble.

This way the goat falls down, breaking its neck or becoming severely injured.

Thereby, eagles can hunt an easy but fresh kill by using their instincts.

The same way eagles have been reported to look for sloths. 

Being one of the slowest animals, sloths can only move as fast as 30cm per min.

Which means an eagle can easily crush them and then, eat them to its fill. 

Easy victim for an eagle!

7. Brain Wiring 

Compared to their body size, eagles have a rather small skull space.

Since eagles have large eyes, this also means that eagles have limited brain matter. 

While eagles have excellent hunting skills, they may have limited judgment ability.

Or, eagles appear to make irrational decisions on a whim. 

For instance, eagles have been reported to attack octopuses, sharks, lions, kangaroos, and even grizzly bears. 

If anything, this low judgment ability makes eagles unpredictable and therefore, extremely dangerous.

However, with all its weapons and instincts,

Eagle attacks on humans have rarely been reported. 

Now, you may be doubting an eagle’s skill, asking:

Can An Eagle Kill You?

Theoretically, large eagles like Harpy or Golden eagles can kill a person.

That said, no such authentic case has ever been reported.


Well, there is no way to tell for sure.

Related article which you will find interesting – Human vs Eagle

However, ornithologists describe this behavior through the following theories:

1. Energy Conservation

Perhaps, eagles don’t hunt humans because catching humans costs a lot of energy.

You see, living in the wild is quite difficult.

Only the fittest animals get to survive each day.

Sometimes animals have to live without food.

And so, 

The biggest concern of any wild animal is energy conservation. 

Therefore, animals look for ways to minimize their energy consumption levels. 

For instance, songbirds tend to sleep with one eye to ensure they wake up at a moment’s notice.

Thereby, increasing their chances of survival through the night. 

But to avoid restlessness, these birds take small naps throughout the day to conserve their energies. 

The same is true for eagles that often scavenge for dead fish or other animals to avoid the struggle of catching a rabbit.

So, perhaps

An eagle would rather catch a rabbit or fox than struggle to eat a human. 

2. Size Disparity

Perhaps, eagles understand that they are not big enough to cope with humans.

You see, animals associate large size with dominance.

Now, eagles are enormous birds with wingspans exceeding human height.

In fact, a Harpy eagle looks like a human wearing a Halloween costume. 

In contrast, humans have vertical stature.

While their body build is neither massive nor heavier than average wild cats, however, if a human tries to stretch its arms, it looks fairly larger than most animals.


Eagles don’t kill humans because they deem them as large and dominant animals.

3. Preferences

Perhaps, humans are not an eagle’s favorite snack. 

And so, eating a human is not only arduous but also not much rewarding to eagles. 

That said, there is no evidence to prove this theory.


Perhaps, eagles cannot really kill humans.

Again, no authentic eagle-caused human deaths have ever been reported. 

In any case, the probability of an eagle killing a human is extremely low. 

But, maybe you saw an eagle around your place and now you are wondering:

Are Eagles Friendly?

Naturally, they aren’t but they can be tamed into friends.

You see, with all its ferocity and magnificence, an eagle is still a bird. 

No doubt, it is intelligent and sharp as well as strong and intimidating.

But, an eagle is also a bird with the ability to learn through experiences. 

It’s just like dogs and wolves are not really human-friendly,though they can be raised to become human friends. 

In fact, “Falconry” is an ancient practice that may have originated during Mesopotamian civilization.

Back then, hunters would climb up the highest of mountains to find eagle or hawk eggs. 

The best eggs were on the verge of hatching. 

Normally, the hunter would ensure to be the first person to see that bird, thereby forming an unbreakable bond. 

Such a trained eagle responds to every command by its human owner.

At one time, falconry was considered a competitive sport.

Even the royalties of the middle east and tribal lords boasted of their birds. 

Mongols did this too 

Some people even used these birds for navigation as well as a sign of their presence.  

This is precisely why Mulan’s antagonist Shan Yu had a falcon up his sleeve.

Still, the concept of falconry has continued till this day.

Today, raising a bird of prey requires special permits as well as expensive maintenance.

Furthermore, ancient falconers were hardy people, who knew that they might have to sacrifice their eagle-partner if a bird becomes too old to fight.


Today, a falconer forms an almost romantic attachment to its bird.

It may be that a modern-day falconer understands the worth of his bird fellow.

Or, perhaps, he understands that the untimely death of his raptor will take away his permit to own another bird.


Falconry proves that eagles and humans can live on friendly terms.

That said, an adult eagle rarely gets tamed by human presence.


Perhaps, eagles can only become friends, if they are adopted as cherished children.

Speaking of falconry, it is the most common practice with hawks.

So, you may be wondering:

Is An Eagle More Dangerous Than a Hawk?

Certainly, yes.

An average hawk is about 0.6 kgs in weight and can grow about 1-2 feet tall.

A hawk’s wingspan typically exceeds 1m in width. 

Meanwhile, most eagles are about 5-7 kgs in weight, can grow to 3 feet tall with a span exceeding 2-3 meters in width (See figure 2). 

The largest of hawks are about the size of the smallest of eagles. 

While the small size allows hawks to move with precision in short distances, eagles can usually fly higher than hawks.

And both birds dive at almost similar speeds.

So, it comes down to physical and mental strength rather than just speed.

Is an Eagle More Dangerous than a Hawk?

Figure 2: Comparison of the largest and the smallest Eagle Species with Average Hawks 

Compared to hawks, an eagle’s claws and talons are twice as massive and long.

An eagle has more gripping strength allowing it to crush bigger bones than a hawk. 

While both birds have somewhat similar beaks, eagles have larger eyes, which means they can see further than a hawk. 

However, larger eyes leave limited space for an eagle’s brain. 

This means,

A hawk may have better judgment ability than an eagle.

This is supported by the evidence that hawks rarely take unnecessary fights.

In contrast, eagles seem a bit confused as they take fights with all sorts of animals. 

Eagles have been observed to win nearly all fights against hawks. 

Eagles are more dangerous than hawks, mainly because they are more unpredictable and somewhat irrational.

“Wait, how come eagles attacking other animals seem more dangerous to humans, than hawks eating a rabbit?”

Because eagles seem to be attacking all animals, even if they succeed or not.

Which leads me to my next point 

What Animals Do Eagles Hunt? (Or At-least Has Tried To)

Here is a list of animals, that eagles have attacked in recorded evidence.

The list includes:

  1. Sharks 
  2. Octopuses
  3. Grizzly Bears
  4. Leopards
  5. Lions
  6. Crows
  7. Foxes By 
  8. Mountain Goats
  9. Deer
  10. Kangaroos 
  11. Monkeys
  12. Snakes
  13. Monitor Lizards
  14. Wild cats
  15. Sloths
  16. Hogs
  17. Wolves
  18. Flamingos
  19. Rabbits
  20. Seagulls
  21. Dogs
  22. Cats
  23. Owls
  24. Hawks
  25. Other eagles
  26. Chickens

In fact, eagles have been recorded to even attack humans. 

Wrapping up

Eagles possess large talons, piercing beaks, and hunting senses.

This means eagles are indeed dangerous birds.

However, they have never been reported to kill a human.

Actually, humans have been adopting eagles as partners for centuries, so this shows eagles can be friendly birds. 

That said, eagles have been reported to attack all sorts of animals.

So overall, eagles are dangerous

Related article about eagles which you may find interesting

Why do crows attack eagles? 

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