Welcome to the world of raptor birds, or birds of prey as they are commonly known as. Here, you will learn about ten of the largest raptors in the world. This list is based on weight and goes from the lightest to heaviest, with some fun facts you may not have known thrown in.
10. Eurasian Eagle-Owl
Considered to be one of the largest species of owl, found through-out mountain regions, coniferous forests and steppes around much of Eurasia. True to its name, this predator is mainly nocturnal, hunting for a range of different prey such as small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, large insects and other assorted invertebrates. The females of this species grow to a total length of 30in, with a wingspan of 6ft, and weighing 3-10lbs. The males are a bit smaller, weighing 2-7lbs. The population is estimated to be between 250 thousand and 2.5 million, making this species conservation status to be of least concern. The Eurasian Eagle-Owl has a very distinct appearance with a barrel-shaped build, erect ear tufts and large orange eyes, making it easy to identify.
9. African Crowned Eagle
The crowned eagle, as the name hints at, is mainly found in sub-Sahara Africa, and eastern parts of South Africa. Females of this species weigh around the same as the eagle-owl, 7-10lbs. But what makes this bird bigger is the fact that fully grown is between 2.6-3.2ft long, a bit longer then the eagle-owl. The males only weigh 5-6lbs, and the wingspan is 5-5.9ft. The main diet of this eagle consists of mammals, with birds and large lizards being rarely taken. These eagles possess unusually large talons and strong legs, and are thought to kill their prey by crushing the skull with said talons. These birds are also ferocious, with mothers being the worst. They are always ready to attack anything that comes close to her nest. The attack is not meant to kill, but will leave you with deep, open wounds. These eagles have also been known to attack children as prey, with skulls being found in a few nests, as well as a severed arm of a child being found in a tree. The conservation status is currently at near threatened.
Found in open and semi-open habitats of sub- Saharan Africa, this eagle can weigh up to 13lbs, with an average length at 31-38in and a wingspan of 6-8ft. The diet of this species is mainly based on availability of prey and can be dictated largely by opportunity, and mainly includes game birds, reptiles, and mammals. Unlike the crowned eagle, this eagle is not known to attack humans. However, their population has been on a decline in the recent years, mainly due to being directly killed by humans. Currently, their conservation status is vulnerable.
7. Golden Eagle
One of my personal favorites, the Golden Eagle is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Their size ranges from 26-40in long, 5-7ft wingspan and weighing up to 14lbs. These birds have been one of the most highly regarded birds used in falconry for centuries. The diet of this species mainly consists of hares, rabbits, marmots and other ground squirrels. Due to their large range of habitat, with a total number somewhere between 170 thousand and 250 thousand, they are considered least concern in conservation status.
6. Bearded Vulture
Hey look, time for a vulture species, one that looks like it wears baggy pants. This vulture is found in mountainous regions from Europe through much of Asia and Africa. This species weighs up to 17lbs, with a wingspan of 7-9ft, and growing up to 49in long. Unlike other species, these birds do not have a bald head. Like other vultures, they are scavengers, yet they tend to not eat the meat. Instead, these birds live on a diet that is typically 85-90% bone marrow. This is the only living bird species that specializes in feeding on marrow, and can swallow whole or bite through brittle bones up to the size of a lamb femur, and its powerful digestive system quickly dissolves the pieces. The conservation status of this bird is currently near threatened.
5. Philippine Eagle
What a beautiful eagle, this bird is one of the rarest and most powerful birds in the world, and has been declared the national bird of the Philippines. Killing one of these birds is punishable by heavy fines and 12 years in prison. Growing up to 3ft in length, a wingspan of 6-7ft and weighing up to 17lbs. The diet of these birds varies, depending on the island it is on, though they are known to prey on small bats, Philippine deer and everything in between. Unfortunately, due to loss of habitat resulting from deforestation in most of its range, this species is listed as critically endangered.
4. Harpy Eagle
Time to get into the heavier birds, this is the Harpy Eagle. This species can be found from Mexico through Central America and into South America to as far south as Argentina. Unfortunately, this species is almost extinct in Central America, aside from some areas in Panama, due to logging of much of the rainforest there. This eagle mainly inhabits tropical lowland rainforests, and may occur within such areas from the canopy to the emergent vegetation. The main prey of this bird are usually tree-dwelling mammals such as sloths and monkeys, though they may also attack birds and reptiles. The females can weigh as much as 20lbs, males weighing up to 10lbs, a wingspan of 5-7ft and growing to a length of 2-3ft. The conservation status is currently near threatened.
3. Stellar's Sea Eagle
Said to be the heaviest eagle in the world, weighing up to 20lbs, with a wingspan of 6-8ft and a length of 2-3ft. These eagles mainly live in coastal northeastern Asia, preying on fish and water birds. The most noted feature, aside from the large size, is the large bill and prominent head. The skull is around 5in in length, culmen is from 2-3in, and the bill from the gape to the tip is around 4.6in, the largest bill of any living eagle. The species is currently listed at vulnerable in conservation status, and are legally protected, being classified as a National Treasure in Japan. Many threats to the survival of this species persists, however, mainly being habitat alteration, industrial pollution, and overfishing. Current population is estimated at 5,000 and decreasing.
2. California Condor
Classified as a New World Vulture, this is the largest North American land bird, weighing up to 26lbs, a wingspan of 9.8ft and 43-55in long. These birds are mainly scavengers, eating large amounts of carrion, and is one of the world's longest living birds with a lifespan of up to 60 years. This condor became extinct in the wild in 1987, mainly due to poaching, lead poisoning and habitat destruction. The last of the wild condors were captured and taken into captivity to breed. The species was then reintroduced to northern Arizona and southern Utah, coastal mountains of central and southern California, and northern Baja California. This is one of the world's rarest bird species, with only 435 condors living in the wild and in captivity as of December 2015. The are listed as critically endangered.
1. Andean Condor
Another New World Vulture found in South America, this is the largest flying bird in the world by combined measurement of wingspan and weight. The wingspan is 10ft, exceeded only by the wingspans of four sea birds and water birds, weighing up to 33lbs, and a length of 4ft. They are one of the world's longest living birds, with a lifespan of over 70 years in some cases. Being part of the New World Vulture class, they are scavengers, feeding mainly on carrion. Though at times they have been observed hunting small, living animals, as well as raiding nests of smaller birds and feeing on the eggs. The species is currently listed as near threatened.
barbara fennell on May 24, 2017:
Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on May 22, 2017:
Very informative articles and the photos are gorgeous.