10 Deadliest and Most Dangerous Birds of Prey
Also known as “predatory birds,” birds of prey are carnivorous birds that hunt and feed on other animals, including birds. Predatory birds are enormous and powerful, some of which have wingspans over 7 feet.
Their beaks and talons are far from cute because they are designed for ripping apart prey. In addition to these features, they also possess keen eyesight for spotting prey during flight.
In this article, we will examine 10 of the deadliest and most dangerous birds of prey on the planet.
Top 10 Most Dangerous Birds of Prey
- African Crowned Eagles
- Philippine Eagles
- Harpy Eagles
- Martial Eagles
- Peregrine Falcons
- Great Horned Owls
- Golden Eagles
- Snowy Owls
- Bearded Vultures
- Eurasian Owls
African Crowned Eagles
- Weight: 7.1 – 12 pounds
- Length: 2.6 – 3.2 feet
- Wingspan: 5 – 5.9 feet
The African crowned eagle can be found in the forests of sub-Saharan Africa, where it has access to a variety of prey, including primates. While most bird attacks on humans result from provocation, this is the only bird known to prey on humans.
These dangerous predatory birds view human children as prey, with several reports of unprovoked attacks and the discovery of human skulls in their nests.
The crowned eagle is a gigantic bird, typically measuring over 3 feet in total length. It has powerful legs for crushing skulls and is known to be ferocious, often taking down large animals.
Using the element of surprise, they swoop in on their prey with their feet extended, penetrating brain tissue with their talons or crushing their victims’ skulls.
- Weight: 8 – 18 pounds
- Length: 2.8 – 3.4 feet
- Wingspan: 6 – 7.3 feet
Philippine eagles are unique-looking eagles that distinguish themselves from other species by their shaggy crest and brown/white feathers.
With an impressive wingspan of over 7 feet, they have one of the largest wings of any eagle on the planet.
They have two main hunting tactics. The first includes sit-and-wait strategies until their prey is spotted, while the other involves gliding through the canopy from one perch to another.
Philippine eagles utilize their size, strength, and hunting abilities to hunt monkeys and other tree-dwelling creatures. However, they’ll also eat snakes, bats, and other birds.
Unfortunately, these majestic eagle species are listed as endangered due to poaching activities, with only about 400 individuals left in the wild.
- Weight: 8.8 – 20 pounds
- Length: 2.9 – 3.6 feet
- Wingspan: 6.5 – 7.5 feet
The harpy eagle is another powerful eagle species named after the Harpies of Greek mythology. Because of their hunting prowess and agility, harpy eagles are considered one of the strongest birds on the planet.
With wingspans that measure up to 7.5 feet wide and talons that are up to 4 inches long, these predatory birds are the second-largest eagles by length and third-largest by weight.
They’re patient predators that sit and wait for prey for extended periods, so hiding isn’t the best option when harpy eagles are involved. Their talons are the longest of any living eagle and are known to carry prey as heavy as their own body weight.
These dangerous birds of prey primarily feed on tree-dwelling animals, such as sloths, monkeys, and opossums.
- Weight: 8 – 14 pounds
- Length: 2.5 – 3.2 feet
- Wingspan: 6.2 – 7.1 feet
Martial eagles are the largest African eagles native to sub-Saharan habitats. In addition, they are the most powerful members of the booted eagle subfamily (eagles with feathers over their legs).
These avian predators can reach a length of 3 feet and a maximum wingspan of about 7 feet.
They are opportunistic predators that feed on various prey, from mammals to reptiles and even other birds, based on whatever is available.
As implied by its name, the martial eagle hunts in a warlike manner, employing its full force. It only abandons a hunt when a potentially harmful prey fights back. Otherwise, it’s an unrelenting predator.
Their opportunistic ways are not appreciated by locals and farmers because livestock is one of their prey. Farmers often hunt them to prevent further attacks on their cattle. Consequently, these birds have become endangered.
- Weight: 2.2 – 2.6 pounds
- Length: 1.4 – 1.6 feet
- Wingspan: 2.4 – 3.9 feet
Although peregrine falcons are smaller compared to the other deadly birds on our list, they can still do considerable damage.
Like most falcons, peregrine falcons have razor-sharp claws and beaks that can dismember prey easily.
Additionally, as the world’s fastest birds, their speed is another attribute that makes them lethal. Their attacks are swift and brutal before victims even get the chance to understand what hit them.
And that’s not all. Because peregrines enjoy fish as a significant part of their diet, they are also excellent divers.
Even in unnatural territories like water, their speed makes them one of the world’s fastest diving animals.
Read Also: Are Falcons Dangerous to Humans?
Great Horned Owls
- Weight: 3 – 5.5 pounds
- Length: 1.2 – 2.1 feet
- Wingspan: 3.3 – 4.7 feet
Also known as tiger owls, great horned owls are some of the strongest owl species that can grow more than 2 feet in length, with wingspans that often reach nearly 5 feet.
Great horned owls got their name from the arrangement of feathers atop the sides of their heads, resembling horns. Their plumage is designed for camouflage, making it easy to blend into the forest as they stalk their prey.
They primarily feed on small mammals and birds but are also known to hunt larger prey.
Their talons’ clutching force is so powerful that it can be compared to the bite of a large guard dog. In other words, their talons are strong enough to cause severe injury.
- Weight: 6.5 – 15 pounds
- Length: 2.2 – 3.4 feet
- Wingspan: 5.9 – 7.7 feet
Another dangerous eagle deservedly earned its spot on our deadliest birds of prey. Also known as royal eagles, golden eagles are the most popular species after bald eagles.
They have a grip strength almost as powerful as a lion’s bite and can cause fatal bodily harm. However, they aren’t known to attack humans.
Golden eagles build large nests in cliffs and other high places, to which they return with their kills. Because of its hunting prowess, it is one of the most extensively studied predatory birds.
As birds of prey, they use their immense strength and deadly-sharp talons to feed on small mammals. The bulk of their diet consists of rodents, but they sometimes snatch livestock, sheep, and adult deer.
If live prey is scarce, golden eagles have been known to feed on carcasses.
Aside from their strength, golden eagles are also super fast. Although not as fast as peregrine falcons, their impressive speed still plays a vital role in snatching prey.
- Weight: 4 – 5 pounds
- Length: 2.1 – 2.4 feet
- Wingspan: 4 – 5 feet
Native to the harsh Arctic tundra, snowy or polar owls have greatly adapted to the frigid arctic weather conditions. They have been recorded in temperatures as low as -62.5 degrees Celsius with no apparent discomfort.
Unlike males, females have more dark-brown dots, but their plumage is still primarily white.
Snowy owls are among the few birds of prey that regularly attack Arctic foxes, wolves, and occasionally humans. They’re extremely territorial and protective of their young and will stop at nothing to eliminate threats.
In addition to being one of the biggest species of owls in the world, snowy owls are equipped with sharp, razor-like talons, which would make many predators envious.
By pecking, clawing, and squeezing their targets, these deadly birds of prey can cause grievous harm to their enemies.
- Weight: 11 – 14 pounds
- Length: 3.1 – 4.1 feet
- Wingspan: 7.6 – 9.3 feet
Also known as Lammergeiers (meaning lamb vulture in German), bearded vultures are one of the largest vultures in the world, standing at around 4 feet tall and weighing 10 to 15 pounds. It has an unmistakable appearance and is the only vulture species that aren’t bald.
Like other vultures, these eagle-like creatures feed on the corpses of animals. However, bearded vultures are great scavengers, preferring bones over flesh.
In fact, approximately 80% of their diet consists of bone and bone marrow. This is possible because their stomach acid has a pH that can easily digest dense material.
Although vultures do not attack humans, they are powerful enough to cause serious damage in case of an altercation.
- Weight: 5 – 8 pounds
- Length: 1.9 – 2.3 feet
- Wingspan: 5 – 6.6 feet
Eurasian owls are the second largest owls and, at the same time, one of the most dangerous birds of prey. As their name suggests, they rule Eurasian habitats.
Having a squeeze strength of 500 PSI, Eurasian owls possess the most lethal talons among owls. In a matter of seconds, they pierce the internal organs of their target, instantly killing them.
Its diet consists mainly of small mammals, but it will attack larger ones, including humans, when threatened.
Like all owl species, Eurasian owls are unusually quiet in flight, which gives them an element of surprise when attacking their prey. In addition, they have ten times more developed hearing than humans, allowing them to locate their prey out of their visual range.
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