What Eats An Eagle?

With their powerful regal features and ability to hunt from the sky, eagles are anything but weak,which means no sane animal dares to seek eagles as a staple diet. However, living in the wild is a constant struggle for survival. And so,

If given the opportunity, any animal with carnivorous tendencies will eat an eagle.

However, such incidences rarely happen.

Before we discuss all those animals that can potentially eat an eagle, let’s address an entirely different issue.

That is:

What Is An Eagle?

Most people describe eagles as:

Large-sized raptors with stout builds, thick-hooked bills, large feathers, and prominent eyes. 

But that is exactly how one can define all birds of prey including vultures, falcons, hawks, kites, and even owls. 

And yet, all these birds belong to biologically distinct groups (see figure 1). 

What Eats An Eagle?

Figure 1: Representing Eagles as a Distinct Taxonomic Group among Raptors. 

Now, owls and ospreys don’t even share a common bird order with eagles.

This difference is clearly manifested in their physical features.

You can tell these birds apart from eagles through a single glance.

The same is true for New World Vultures that belong to a different family of birds.

Even the Old World Vultures can be easily recognized as they have unique chicken-like feet as well as slouched body posture. 

Similarly, Falcons have oval-shaped eyes and a distinct streamlined body.

Their feathers are arranged to slice through airwaves, giving them the ability to pluck flying prey directly from the air.

The issue begins with harriers and kites that are so similar to hawks that people often mistake them for some hawk.

Still, these birds are distinguishable from eagles by their broad facial features and small body size.

That said,

Hawks and eagles resemble that hawks are often taken as ‘Dwarf Eagles’.

These birds even share hunting styles. 

While it is hardly surprising that hawks and eagles share bird ancestors, however, 

Hawks and eagles are not the same birds.

How so?

Firstly, they don’t share enough genetic information. In fact, they don’t even have the same number of chromosomes. 

Hawk species typically have 33-36 pairs of chromosomes, while most eagle species have less than 32 pairs of chromosomes per cell

“Why is that important?”

Well, if the two groups of birds were to mingle, they wouldn’t be creating another reproducing offspring.

In fact, most inter-breeding would end up without a singular viable species.

Biologically, this defines eagles and hawks as different species.

It is exactly what defines horses as a different species from donkeys.

And so, interbreeding of the two species leads to mules that cannot further reproduce.


To define what is an eagle, one should be able to see them as a distinct group from hawks.

Difference Between Hawk And Eagle (Comparison Table)

Here is a comparison of two groups:

Hawks Eagles
Body Size Smaller than eagles, birds, typically weigh approximately 0.5-2 kgs. 

These can grow about 24-inches tall and have a wingspan more than 1m wide.

Larger than most hawks, typically weigh approximately 6-7 kgs. 

These can grow about 36-inches tall and have a wingspan more than 2-3m wide.

Feather Shape Feathers are rather dense and rounded. Feathers are broad and not much rounded. Wings typically have finger-like extensions on the peripheries.
Tails Tails are smaller and rounded. Tails are longer and straighter.
Pigmentation Typically, hawks vary in color from white and grey to red-brown. Most eagles have dark shades from dark browns to orange-golden. Some may have white patches.
Heads and Eyes Heads are smaller compared to the standard bird head-to-body ratio.

Eyes are smaller than eagles.

Heads are larger compared to the standard head-to-body ratio.

Eyes are about the size of human eyes.

Foraging Habits Hunt primarily smaller animals including frogs, lizards, rodents, gophers, and rabbits.

Rarely scavenge.

May hunt all kinds of animals from monkeys and deers to rabbits and fish. 

Often scavenge dead fish.

Speed Fly faster than most eagles, typically at 180km/hour.

Most dive at 250km/ hour.

Slower than most hawks, typically at 120km/hour.

 Most dive at 150km/hour. 


Of course, certain eagle species like bald eagles have striking features making them instantly distinguishable from all other birds. 

Now that eagles are defined as a separate group of birds from all other raptors,

We can finally talk about all those potential eagle hunters.

Since eagles are considered the kings of birds, therefore, it is only appropriate that we ask if the kings of the animals can outwit them.


Do Lions Eat Eagles?

They do, whenever they can.

Now, an average eagle can weigh about 6-11 kgs and can grow as tall as 2-4 feet in height.

Their wingspans exceed a typical 2-3 meters. 

So, eagles can have a wider wingspan than the height of a human. 

In fact, Harpy eagles are so big that they look like a human wearing a bird costume.

In contrast, an average lion can weigh about 160kgs and may grow about 4-5 feet in height.

While a lion does not have wings, its body length can exceed 1.5-2m from the shoulders to its tail. 

No eagle is massive enough to kill a lion with sheer weight. 

That said, eagles are equipped with gripping feet having 3-4inch long piercing talons.

They have beaks strong enough to tear through any flesh. 

However, lions have retractable claws and sharp teeth.


If it comes to a hand-on-combat, a lion has a greater advantage of pouncing, crushing, and then eating an eagle. 

Obviously, an eagle will try to strike back and may even land a few scratches.

But, a lion can simply lie on it and squish it beneath its weight.

And yet, this rarely happens. 

Now, you may be wondering:

Why Do Lions Rarely Eat Eagles?

Well, because:

1. Flight Ability

Now, eagles are flighted birds that usually build their nests on tall trees or high-mountain rocks. 

Meanwhile, lions find climbing extremely difficult. 

Even if a lion miraculously climbs a tall tree to grab an eagle, the raptor would simply flap its wings and soar to the next tree. 

Therefore, hunting eagles will cost lions a great deal of energy.

2. Struggle

In the wild, energy conservation is the biggest issue for survival.

Predators prefer submissive lazy prey. 

Eagles are not only vigilant, but they also have the potential to fight

While a deer will only run away, an eagle may turn around and tear through a lions skin. 

Therefore, lions are rather wary of approaching an eagle, much less struggle to eat one. 

3. Satiation

Though, eagles are enormous birds, they are not the most appealing prey for lions. 

You see, adult lions consume about 5-7 kgs of meat per day.

However, an eagle accounts for only about 2-4 kgs meat (without the weight of bones and feathers of a total 8kg body mass). 

Therefore, an eagle would not satiate a lion’s hunger.


An eagle is hardly a snack for an adult lion.

Again, eagles hardly ever come down to earth and stay still to be hunted

So, eagles are sort of delicacies in a lion’s menu.

Now, you may be thinking,

If a Lion won’t eat an Eagle, would it hunt one?

Let’s find out

When Would a Lion Hunt An Eagle?

For lions, a healthy adult eagle is off the table.

So, a lion can only prey on an eagle when the raptor is:

  1. Too sick to fly away or fight.
  2. Too young to take their food to their nest and get eaten in the process. 
  3. Too bold to perceive the dominance of lions on the land.
  4. Too old to be wary of coming dangers.
  5. Too unlucky to be found accidentally,
  6. Too injured to move their feathers, while still being aware of all the dangers. 

Sometimes eagles are hunted when they are still nestlings.

Sometimes they are hunted before even coming out of their eggs.

So, let’s ask again, what eats an eagle.


What Animals Eat Eagles? (Detailed Table) 

Typically, whoever finds the opportunity.

Again, healthy adult eagles are not a preferred diet for any animal. 

But, here is a list of all those animals that have been reported to hunt, or predate eagles.

Animals Common Motive Hunting Style Remarks
Hawks Hunger, or Opportunity to eat an eagle. Dive directly above their prey to squeeze the life out of their prey. Then, take it to their nest for eating. Will never abstain from eating eagle eggs or hatchlings if they pass from an unattended nest.
Owls Happens when an owl cannot find another prey. Sneak in the dead of night and knock their victims. May attack even an eagle twice their size.
Eagles Territorial Claims,

or Hunger.

Dive directly above their prey to squeeze the life out of their prey.

Take and eat their victim in some safe place.

Attack mostly smaller eagles.

Otherwise, may try to leave the territory.

Octopuses Rare Incident. Have legs with suction pumps. Stick to their victims and kill by choking their victims. Happens only when an eagle is bold enough to dive and eat an octopus.
Wild Cats Hunger, 

Opportunity especially during a famine.

Most have claws, 

some can even climb trees. Others can pursue eagles.

Typically, these can smell their prey.

Happens mostly when an eagle is so weak that it cannot fly or fight. So, it is stuck on the ground.

Or when an eagle is bold enough to try and eat a wild cat.

Wolves Opportunity, or Merely Revenge. Most attack in packs by chasing and then trapping their victim. Happens when an eagle is naïve enough to try and eat a wolf from a pack.
Bears Mostly accident. Bears have raw pounding strength. Happens when an eagle tries to eat a bear.
Humans Survival, or Opportunity.

May be entertainment.

Eagles being large slow birds are easy to target. So, humans have been killing eagles with arrows, poison, gunshots, habitat destruction, and even pollution. It happens mostly when humans lose insight that their strength and intellect are gifts that should not be misused.
Snakes Survival, Opportunity, and Revenge. Snakes slither around their victims and kill prey by suffocating them.

Can also eat eagle eggs.

Happens when an eagle gets poisoned while hunting a snake.
Foxes Hunger Look for eagle eggs. Happens when an eagle has set up a nest in the ground.
Skunks Hunger and opportunity. Look for eagle eggs and nests. Climb trees to feast on eagle eggs.
Raccoons Hunger. Look for eagle eggs and baby eagles.
Crows Opportunity and Revenge. Look for eagle eggs and eaglets. Happens when crows pass through an unattended eagle nest.

Wrapping Up 

Eagles are distinguished raptors, often considered the kings of the birds.

However, if Lions – the Kings of the jungle were to prey on eagles, they would surely win.

Many other animals have been reported to prey on eagles.

But, no animal dares to eat eagles as a staple diet.

Here’s some other related articles about Eagles which you will find interesting

Do eagles eat pigeons?

Are eagles dangerous?

Human vs Eagle

Why do crows attack eagles?

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