Birds of prey, also known as raptors, are among the most powerful predators in the animal kingdom. These birds are known for their sharp talons, hooked beaks, and incredible hunting abilities. From the massive Andean condor to the fierce harpy eagle, the world’s largest birds of prey come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
In this article, we will rank the top 10 largest birds of prey in the world and explore the unique features and habitats of each species. So, get ready to learn about these amazing creatures and discover the fascinating world of raptors.
Did you know that some birds of prey have the ability to see ultraviolet light? This allows them to see patterns and markings on prey that are invisible to the human eye, giving them a distinct advantage when hunting.
Birds of prey have excellent eyesight, with some species able to spot prey from over a mile away. Their eyesight is so powerful that they can see small movements from great distances, allowing them to identify and catch their prey with precision.
Top 10 Largest Birds of Prey: Features and Fascinating Facts
1. Andean Condor
The Andean Condor is a massive bird of prey that can be found soaring high above the Andes Mountains in South America. It has a wingspan of up to 10 feet, making it one of the largest birds in the world. Its black and white feathers and distinctive, featherless head make it easy to identify.
These majestic birds typically nest on cliffs or in caves and can live for up to 70 years. They are known for their impressive soaring ability and are often seen riding the thermals, which are columns of warm air that rise from the mountainsides. The Andean Condor is a scavenger and primarily feeds on carrion, such as dead animals or animal parts. It has a keen sense of smell that helps it locate food from a great distance.
2. California Condor
The California Condor is a critically endangered species of bird of prey, and one of the largest flying birds in North America. These birds have a wingspan of up to 10 feet and can weigh up to 26 pounds. Once on the brink of extinction, conservation efforts have helped to bring their population back from the brink. California Condors are primarily scavengers, feeding on carrion such as deer and other large mammals. They are also known for their distinctive bald heads and black feathers, which are a stark contrast to their white underbelly.
3. Harpy Eagle
The Harpy Eagle is a large bird of prey found in the rainforests of Central and South America. They have a wingspan of up to 7 feet and can weigh up to 20 pounds. These birds are known for their powerful talons, which they use to capture prey such as monkeys and sloths. They are also known for their distinctive crest of feathers on their head, which gives them their name. Harpy Eagles are considered an apex predator in their habitat and are a symbol of strength and power in many indigenous cultures.
4. Steller’s Sea Eagle
Steller’s Sea Eagle, weighing up to 20 pounds and with a wingspan of up to 8 feet, is a powerful predator found in coastal northeastern Asia, particularly in Russia. They use their sharp talons and beaks to catch fish, seabirds, and small mammals. Despite their impressive hunting skills and striking appearance, these eagles are considered a threatened species due to habitat loss and hunting. Conservation efforts, including the establishment of protected areas and strict regulations on hunting and fishing practices, are being implemented to protect them.
5. African Crowned Eagle
Image by Jon Mountjoy
CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The African Crowned Eagle is a large bird of prey found in sub-Saharan Africa. These birds have a wingspan of up to 6 feet and can weigh up to 20 pounds. They are known for their distinctive crest of feathers on their head, which gives them their name. African Crowned Eagles are powerful hunters and feed on a variety of prey, including monkeys, antelopes, and other birds. They are also known for their exceptional eyesight, which allows them to spot prey from great distances.
6. Philippine Eagle
Image by Sinisa Djordje Majetic
CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Philippine Eagle, also known as the Monkey-eating Eagle, is a species of bird of prey found in the Philippines. These birds have a wingspan of up to 7 feet and can weigh up to 20 pounds. They are known for their distinctive crest of feathers on their head, which resembles the shape of a crown. Philippine Eagles are apex predators in their habitat and are known to feed on a variety of prey, including monkeys, flying lemurs, and other birds.
7. Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle is a majestic bird of prey found in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are one of the fastest birds in the world, reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when diving. Golden Eagles have a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet and can weigh up to 15 pounds. They are known for their keen eyesight and powerful talons, which they use to hunt small mammals, birds, and even larger prey like deer and antelope.
8. Bearded Vulture
The Bearded Vulture, or Lammergeier, is a large bird of prey found in Europe, Africa, and Asia. It has a distinctive appearance with a dark brown body, a ruff of feathers resembling a beard, and a hooked beak that it uses to eat bone marrow. This vulture is a skilled flyer and scavenger, but also hunts live prey such as small mammals. Due to habitat loss and persecution by humans, it is listed as an endangered species. However, it plays an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems by removing animal carcasses and waste.
9. Lappet-faced Vulture
Image by Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE
CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Lappet-faced Vulture is a large bird of prey found in sub-Saharan Africa, with a wingspan of up to 9.5 feet and a weight of up to 25 pounds. It has distinctive lappets of bare skin on either side of its beak, thought to regulate its body temperature. These vultures primarily feed on carrion but have been known to take live prey. They often scavenge alongside other vulture species and can dominate other scavengers due to their large size and aggressive behavior. The species is endangered due to habitat loss, poisoning, and persecution by farmers and herders. Conservation efforts are being made to protect the bird and its habitat, including vulture-safe livestock management practices and protected areas.
10. Cinereous Vulture
The Cinereous Vulture, also known as the Eurasian Black Vulture, is one of the largest and heaviest birds of prey in the world, with a wingspan of up to 10 feet and a weight of up to 31 pounds. They have blackish-brown feathers, a bald head, and a powerful hooked beak that allows them to rip apart carcasses. Cinereous Vultures can be found in parts of Europe and Asia, and their population is considered to be declining due to habitat loss, poisoning, and hunting. Despite their size and strength, they are actually quite social birds, often gathering in large groups to feed on carrion.
Did you know that several countries around the world use the eagle as a symbol on their coat of arms or national flags? These countries include the United States, Mexico, Egypt, Nigeria, Germany, and Poland, among others. The eagle is often associated with strength, freedom, and power, and has been used as a symbol in various cultures throughout history.
Fun Facts about Each of the Largest Predatory Birds
- The Andean condor has the largest wingspan of any bird of prey, reaching up to 10 feet.
- California condors are one of the rarest birds in the world, with only around 500 individuals left in the wild.
- Harpy eagles have the largest talons of any eagle, measuring up to 5 inches long.
- Steller’s sea eagles are the heaviest eagles in the world, with males weighing up to 20 pounds.
- African crowned eagles have been known to prey on primates, including humans.
- Philippine eagles are known for their striking appearance, with bright blue eyes and a large, distinctive crest.
- Golden eagles are capable of reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when diving for prey.
- Bearded vultures have a unique way of obtaining food – they drop bones from heights onto rocks to break them open.
- Lappet-faced vultures have been known to eat bones and have powerful digestive systems that can break them down.
- Cinereous vultures have been known to travel up to 100 miles in a single day in search of food.
Summary Table Comparing the Features of the Largest Birds of Prey
|1. Andean Condor||Up to 10 feet||Up to 33 lbs||Andes Mountains, South America|
|2. California Condor||Up to 10 feet||Up to 26 lbs||Western United States|
|3. Harpy Eagle||Up to 7 feet||Up to 20 lbs||Rainforests of Central and South America|
|4. Steller’s Sea Eagle||Up to 8 feet||Up to 20 lbs||Coastal areas of Northeastern Asia|
|5. African Crowned Eagle||Up to 6 feet||Up to 20 lbs||Sub-Saharan Africa|
|6. Philippine Eagle||Up to 7 feet||Up to 20 lbs||Philippines|
|7. Golden Eagle||Up to 7.5 feet||Up to 15 lbs||North America, Europe, and Asia|
|8. Bearded Vulture||Up to 9 feet||Up to 17 lbs||Europe, Africa, and Asia|
|9. Lappet-faced Vulture||Up to 10 feet||Up to 18 lbs||Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East|
|10. Cinereous Vulture||Up to 9 feet||Up to 31 lbs||Europe and Asia|
Check out our list of the largest birds in the world and discover the amazing variety of these magnificent creatures. And don’t miss our collection of the smallest birds in the world for some adorable feathered friends!