Humans have the most developed cognitive brain function as well as upright body posture.
In contrast, eagles are crowned as the kings of the birds owing to their magnificent features and unparalleled hunting instincts.
Though eagles are the adept hunters of the sky, humans walk on earth while outwitting all other species.
Still, comparing the two animals is like comparing apples with oranges.
But if we proceed further, it will require appreciating the differences between the two species on the same parameters.
So, let’s start with the most fundamental of questions:
How Big Is An Eagle Compared To a Human?
Well, it isn’t.
You see, an average eagle weighs about 6-7 kgs and can grow as tall as 3-feet.
In contrast, a typical human weighs more than 60-70kgs and can grow as much as 7 feet (2.3 meters) tall.
An average human is about 5-7 times heavier than a typical eagle.
Still, eagles appear extremely larger than their actual size (See figure 1).
Figure 1: A brief comparison of Humans and Large Eagles
It’s because eagles have broad and thick feathers.
In fact, an eagle’s wingspan can reach as wide as 3-meter.
An eagle’s wingspan may be longer than average human height.
That said, humans don’t have wings, but they do have arms.
An average human’s arm span is about 2-3 meters wide.
If a human were to stretch his arms upwards, he will still win the height competition.
Anyways, wings add more volume to an eagle’s appearance.
Another thing is, they have less dense bones.
Meanwhile, the human body packs more muscle in upright body posture.
Still, merely body volume cannot win against raw strength.
Besides, it seems unlikely that an eagle will win over any human by hitting him with its feathers.
Otherwise, we will be having pillow fights with eagles each week deciding who is the best species.
That would be hilarious because humans crown themselves as primate kings.
Now, you may be wondering:
Is An Eagle Stronger Than a Human?
You see, to become airborne, birds needed to reduce their body weight.
Like other flighted birds, eagles also have long but hollowed bones.
This also means that eagles have weaker joints and less dense bodies.
In contrast, humans have thicker and heavier bones with bone marrow filling.
Furthermore, humans have more muscle per kg of their weight.
A human may be capable of snapping an eagle’s skeleton with his bare hands.
However, body mass and muscle strength is not the only parameter for measuring strength.
So, let’s compare the two animals for their relative body features:
|Speed||An eagle can fly as fast as 200km per hour. But, it can dive at about 350 km per hour.
Eagles don’t use their feet for walking as much.
|A human can not fly, but he can run as fast as 13km per hour.
Humans have flexible joints to allow movement in nearly all positions and all directions.
|An eagle will outrun humans in speed.|
|Ability to Surprise||Eagles are naturally sneaky and like hunting surprised prey. And so, you wouldn’t know an eagle is upon you until it dive-bombs you.||Humans can be sneaky. However, they need to develop this skill through practice.||An eagle will win at not drawing unnecessary attention during a hunt.|
|Eyesight||An eagle has larger eyes compared to its body weight. The eyes are fixed. But an eagle can focus on two different objects at the same time.
Eagles have about 4-8 times better eyesight than humans.
In fact, eagles can even see colors beyond visible spectra.
They are estimated to see clearly at 2 miles away.
|Human eyes are not even 1% of their body weight.
Their eyes can move but they cannot focus on two different objects at the same time.
Human eyesight cannot observe colors beyond visible spectra.
Humans are estimated to see no more than a few feet away.
|An eagle will see through camouflage animals, while a human will struggle.|
|Lift Strength||An eagle cannot lift more than its own body weight.
So, for a Harpy eagle of 9kgs, the lift limit is about 7-8kgs.
|While this limit varies among individuals. However, an adult human male can lift more than 50kgs of weight.||A human can easily hold and carry any eagle.|
|Claws, Hands, and Feet||An eagle has two gripping claws, with three toes each.
The claws are larger than human hands, with 3-4iches talons.
The claws are strong enough to crush bones.
|Humans have two hands and two feet, with five fingers and five toes each, respectively.
The hands allow maximum dexterity.
However, humans have limited grip strength.
|While a human will need to apply pressure on specific points to snap an eagle’s bones. An eagle can crush human bones with raw strength.|
|Smell and Hearing||Eagles have little to no sense of smell. But they have limited hearing.||A human has a moderate sense of smell as well as hearing.||A human can smell an eagle’s presence, but an eagle will have to look to find a human.|
|Beaks and Lips||An eagle has 2-3inches long hooked beak. And so, they are capable of tearing through all kinds of flesh.||A human has soft lips but moderate teeth to bite through food.||An eagle can cause significant damage to humans by using its beak.|
|Cognitive Ability||Eagles can differentiate between their chicks and other birds. However, they have limited grey matter and therefore, limited judgment ability.||Humans have the most developed cognitive function for any animal.||While an eagle will take on an irrational fight, a human will devise a plan to win even the irrational fights.|
|Speech and Communication||Eagles have limited speech ability. Also, they either live alone or as mates.
Eagles rarely form large groups.
|Humans have the most capable speech abilities. They can communicate and mostly live as colonies.||While an eagle will attack a human. However, humans may form alliances to beat an eagle.|
Comparing all these abilities, an eagle seems to be having an upper strength.
All a human has to do is lie down on that assaulting eagle, and it is game over for that sneaky, feathered beast.
So, the question is:
Can An Eagle Kill a Human?
Potentially, a large eagle such as Harpy or Haast’s eagle can kill a human.
You see, an average eagle has about 3-4 inches long talons.
Now, by a rule of thumb, all knives smaller than 3-inches are considered tools.
But, knives longer than 3-inches have the capacity to pierce through human vital organs.
An eagle is naturally equipped to pierce through human skin while causing fatal injuries.
Furthermore, an eagle’s grip is far more powerful than a human’s.
In fact, scientists from HawkQuest, an environmental educational institute in Colorado, estimated that a bald eagle’s grip is about 10 times stronger than a human’s grasp.
Ornithologists suggest that an eagle can exert about 580psi through its claws.
In other words,
An eagle can easily crush human bones.
So, I suggest you never try arm wrestling with an eagle. It’s a scam!
While eagles rarely use their beaks during hunting, their beaks are sharp enough to tear through flesh.
You see, human skin is neither too thick nor much hairy, so, an eagle can cause significant damage to any human by using its beak.
However, humans are usually protected under a layer of clothes.
Besides, humans can devise plans, make use of tools as well as hunt as groups.
Combat between a human and an eagle will probably last with that human bearing a few scratches, while still being the winner.
So, it seems like an eagle cannot kill a human.
Has An Eagle Ever Killed a Human?
To date, no authentic eagle-caused human death has ever been reported.
Historically, several myths of eagles or eagle-looking birds picking up human children have been reported.
One of the most famous tales, suggests that a golden eagle picked up a Taung child in Africa and devoured it.
Thereby, leaving the bones in open.
However, there is no definite proof of any such activity.
That said, eagles have been reported to attack humans.
A few of the recorded instances include:
- In 2007, an eagle attacked the parachute of a British female paraglider named Nicky Moss.
- In 2009, a zookeeper Gabriella was holding a Malakand Cockatoo for a Children’s show in Los Angles. The eagle suddenly attacked directly from above. However, no serious injuries were reported.
- In 2011, an eagle hit a bicyclist while it was merely traveling through its territory.
- In April 2019, eagles landed and punctured the skin of a photographer named Lisa Bell in Vancouver.
- In December 2019, Marika Smith- a six months old pregnant lady fought off eagles to save her dog.
Nobody knows for sure why eagles behave this way.
But we do know,
Most eagles attack humans during mating season.
So, perhaps eagles attack humans because they deem them as a threat to their offspring.
Or, perhaps, eagles also become irrational with a surge in their testosterone levels.
In some cases, even tamed eagles behaved unusually around humans.
- An eagle named Uncle Sam tried to bite Ex. President Donald Trump during a photoshoot. Trump seemed not too bothered by this behavior.
- An eagle landed on James Paxton- a professional baseball player. However, it just sat there for a while, before returning to its keeper.
Now, you may be wondering,
Can You Kill An Eagle?
All birds of prey are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
And so, it is illegal to chase, hunt, capture, poison, kill, or sell any eagle without a permit.
Violation of this law can lead to fines up to $15,000 and imprisonment up to 3 years.
Wrapping Up – Human Vs Eagle
An eagle is smaller and lighter than an average human, though eagles possess strong gripping claws with sharp talons.
However, humans are bulkier as well as far more intelligent than eagles.
Therefore, if the two ever fight, an eagle is likely to lose.
While no eagle has ever killed a human, they have certainly attacked several humans.
But even if an eagle harms you, you cannot legally kill it otherwise you can be in trouble and be landed with a hefty fine!
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