Do Eagles Have Predators? (Explained)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Eagles are one of the largest birds of prey on earth and are basically at the top on their side of their chain of the ecosystem.

The eagles have no natural predators except for humans that might shoot them. Large hawks and ospreys might harass them from time to time but the eagle is able to hold its own.

However, eagles’ nestlings and eggs are very much vulnerable to being eaten by some birds of prey and other mammals.

Major predators of eagle young and nests include hawks, owls, and racoons. 

This article will discuss predators eagles have, is the eagle a top predator, how bald eagles defend themselves from predators and what eagles are scared of.

Do Eagles Have Predators?

Do Eagles Have Predators

Eagles are fearsome birds of prey who are at the apex of the foodchain for birds and adult eagles barely have any predators. Some animals however can attack their nests and younglings and they include:

1. Humans

Humans are one of the largest threats to eagle populations. Whether by shooting or by use of pesticides, humans have consistently endangered eagle populations.

Eagles typically do not experience danger from other birds as they are one of the largest birds of prey the world over however they are seriously affected by human activities. 

Humans used to hunt eagles in large numbers until laws were put in place to protect them.

Other than that, humans also endanger eagles when they hunt other animals and leave their carcasses.

Eagles feed on carrion and when they eat animals shot, they can get lead poisoning. 

In countries like the US, strict laws are put in place to protect the eagles and it is a punishable offense to kill, scare or harass an eagle.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on how do eagles sleep

2. Bobcat

Bobcats cannot prey on adult eagles as the eagle might easily rip the cat with their strong beaks and talons.

However they can attack eagle nests and their young who are more vulnerable.

Bobcats sometimes steal food from eagles. If they are smart enough, they will not hesitate to attack young eagles who have not perfected the art of flying and hunting like their parents.

3. Hawks 

Large hawk species such as the Ferruginous hawk and the red-tailed hawk are large carnivores who only eat meat.

The hawk and the adult eagle are both large birds of prey and have quite an instinctive dislike for each other. In fact both species are reputed for fighting to death.

Hawks are known to raid eagle nests, especially whether the parents are around or not.

Fledging eagles are most especially at risk from hawks and they will not hesitate to use them for dinner.

4. Owls

The great horned owl preys on any small animal in its sight. The owl is known for its strength, agility and ferociousness.

Because the owl starts nesting early in the year, it sometimes commandeers the nests of other birds including eagles.

Of course the eagle will fight to get it’s nest back but in most cases the owl wins and the eagle has to retreat.

Young eagles unfortunately are easy prey for the great horned owls especially when they are not yet strong enough to attack.

5. Racoons

Racoons are nest thieves and will steal anything that is possible to steal. They are especially proficient at stealing eggs from bird’s nests.

Racoons are omnivores i.e they eat both plant and meat based materials. They live in a variety of habitats from caves to tree tops, and even homes.

A lot of times, eagles have to defend their nests from intruder racoons who want to make away with their eggs.

They can also make away with newly hatched or very young eagle chicks if stealing eggs is becoming difficult as these are easier to handle.

What Animal Preys On Eagles?

Eagles with their talons and strong beaks can hold their own in a fight against any bird and even against some mammals.

All species of eagles are large and ferocious and are feared by most birds.

They usually prey on fish and small animals that are easy for them to carry and even though they sometimes get into fights with other raptors such as ospreys, hawks and the great horned owls, no animal directly sees the eagles as it’s source of food.

These large raptors however can attack and use young eagles as their source of food.

Although the eagle parents defend their territories from any attacks, it is inevitable not to lose once in a while. The young are also at risk especially when they leave the nest before they are fully fledged which tends to happen a lot.

Also check out this article I wrote on eagles hunting at night

Which Bird Can Kill An Eagle?

Even though eagles are generally solitary birds, occasionally their path crosses with those of other large birds of prey or raptors.

Attacks or clashes can occur when the birds are fighting over food or territory.

Great horned owls are known for making their nests in other bird territories simply because their breeding season starts early and this could lead to a clash.

Hawks also nest from time to time and the eagle sometimes tries to steal food from other birds.

These situations can all lead to a fight to the death if one bird doesn’t back down quickly. 

Death can occur to an eagle in a fight with either a hawk, an owl or even an osprey as these are also raptors with fighting capabilities.

The chances of these birds killing an adult eagle however are slim but the possibilities are there.

Is The Eagle A Top Predator?

Eagles are the apex predators in their section of the food chain and most other animals do not like to cross them.

This is possible due to their bodies which is a lethal weapon in itself.

Eagles have sharp eyesight which can see four times beyond that of humans. This enables them to see their prey from a long distance and then swoop in to stun and grab the animal with their powerful talons.

The eagle talons are it’s most dangerous hunting tools. It is useful for grabbing prey, hooking to a perch, defending its territories and building nests.

The eagle uses its talons to subdue prey and hold them down while ripping out meat with it’s powerful beaks.

It is also instrumental in protecting them from attacks. 

How Do Bald Eagles Defend Themselves From Predators?

When bald eagles are in a clash with any animal their strongest defense is their sharp claws called talons.

If the bald eagle has to protect themselves or their territory in a fight they are quite ferocious and strong fighters. 

The feet and talons of the bald eagle are its major form of defense. A violent swipe from those can take out an eye or a chunk of flesh from the intruder. 

The bald eagle also has a strong sharpened beak with which it can inflict painful bites on any attacker and tear out flesh.

The bald eagle likes to keep to itself, but if forced will defend itself, family and territory.

What Is An Eagle’s Biggest Predator?

An eagle doesn’t have predators because it is pretty much at the top of ot’s food chain. Most animals think twice before clashing with an eagle.

Except for clashes for food or territory, the eagle is pretty much left alone to it’s devices. The greatest danger to eagles are to the young of their species and their nests.

Those are vulnerable to attacks from other birds of prey and from nest thieves like racoons.

Young eagles are susceptible to attacks from hawks, owls, crows and even other eagle species.

What Are Eagles Scared Of?

Well the big birds are pretty much not scared of anything so far that science has revealed. They are wary of humans like most birds and like to keep their distance.

If humans come too close in contact with them or their nest, the eagles are likely to abandon the nest.

Humans are often advised to not to come too close to avoid upsetting them.

Eagles are also wary of crows. Crows are way smaller than eagles and are definitely no match for the big birds, however crows travel in large groups and are known to harass lone eagles while flying.

The eagle can easily swipe at one or two but it wouldn’t be able to defend itself against hundreds of them, that would risk injury to the eagle.

An injured eagle is very vulnerable and as such the wise eagle will change course and leave them behind.


Eagles are strong, fast, large and ferocious. Because of their size, agility and intelligence they have established themselves as the predators at the top of the food chain.

Due to this, they barely have any predators harassing them and are even match and even stronger than other large birds of prey.

The vulnerability to the species comes from their fledgling young and their nests.

Humans, other large birds of prey and racoons have posed challenges to the eagle population.

Photo of author

About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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