Eagles are some of the most magnificent birds of prey to be found in the sky. From the Golden Eagles in Scotland, to the Bald Eagle in America or the Martial Eagle in sub-Saharan Africa. These birds can be found around the temperate world. They are often called the kings of the sky, but there are many different eagles, and they can be very different in size and appearance. So which is the king of kings? Which is the Worlds largest eagle? And is the largest in length also the largest in wingspan or weight? Let’s explore.
Worlds Largest Eagle – The Contenders
So of all the Eagles in all the world, here are the 10 largest contenders for the title. Each has been chosen for its overal length, wingspan or weight and I will compare them all in a table after introducing each of them individually. So let’s get started.
The Martial Eagle, is a very large bird indeed. Seen as a symbol of strength and freedom in sub-Saharan Africa, it is renowned for its impressive wingspan, reaching up to a staggering 8.5 feet! It scans the savannah for prey with its exceptional eyesight from up high. Capable of swooping down with precision and accuracy to snatch small mammals and birds. It has a striking dark brown plumage and a notable crest, making it a sight to behold in the African skies.
Steller’s Sea Eagle
The Steller’s Sea Eagle is predominantly found in Russia, Japan, China and Korea. It is a formidable predator, with a distinctively stark black and white plumage and a massive yellow beak. These birds patrol coastal areas and rivers, primarily feeding on fish. Weighing up to an incredible 22 pounds, it’s not just a master fisher but a really big one too.
American Bald Eagle
The American Bald Eagle, a symbol of the United States, is admired for its striking white head and tail feathers contrasted against a dark brown body. Inhabiting areas close to large bodies of open water, it showcases a spectacular hunting technique, swooping down to snatch fish with its powerful talons, embodying freedom and power.
The bald eagle is also seen as a symbol of resilience and comes with a remarkable recovery story. Once endangered due to over hunting and DDT poisoning, massive conservation efforts have seen its populations rebound, turning it into a symbol of conservation success and hope for other species.
Across their range the bald eagle can vary widely in size. Their size follows the Bergmann’s Rule where those in the northern, colder latitudes are larger than those in the south. Those that live in Alaska can be much bigger than those that live in Florida for example.
The White-Tailed Eagle is seen most often soaring over the coasts and lakes of Europe and Asia, as far East as Japan. They can also be found breeding as far West as Iceland and Greenland, but not as common in this part of their range.
It is sometimes just called the ‘Sea Eagle’ and is recognizable by its light-coloured tail and large, hooked yellow beak. A skilled hunter, it preys on fish, birds, and small mammals, playing a crucial role in maintaining the balance within its ecosystem. They are one of the largest eagles in the world in terms of wingspan.
Like some other eagles though, the White-Tailed Eagle has had a history of mixed fortunes, particularly since the start of the 20th Century. With over hunting, habitat loss and even war putting pressure on the species. They even went extinct locally in some areas, but thankfully due to significant conservation, they population has recovered to the state of being a species of ‘Least Concern’.
The Golden Eagle is one of the most recognisable of the eagle species. With its regal, golden-brown plumage and formidable hunting skills, it is revered in various cultures. It has one of the largest ranges of all the eagles, found across the Northern Hemisphere, from the western tips of Alaska, right across the globe to the eastern shores of Russia and Asia. It soars the skies in many open landscapes and climates, from icy cold tundra to temperate and desert areas.
The Golden Eagle’s wingspan is generally considered to be around the 5th largest of all the eagles, but the size and weight can vary widely across the many subspecies in different parts of their range.
The Wedge-Tailed Eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey. It is recognised by its long, wedge-shaped tail and powerful build. Soaring over open woodlands and forests, it preys on rabbits, hares, and even large birds, embodying the wild spirit of the Australian outback. The population is mostly restricted to mainland Australia, but some can also be found in New Guinea and Tasmania too.
Though separated from most of the other large eagles it is genetically very similar to its other family members in the Aquila genus. It is considered to be one of the most powerful as well as one of the largest eagles in the world.
The Verreaux’s Eagle is an attractive black eagle with a distinctive white V-shaped patch on its back. It can be found mastering the African skies, but only in southern Coastal regions of the continent, and a few sporadic ranges in eastern Africa. Often seen soaring over mountains and savannahs, it primarily preys on rock hyraxes, and are quite unique amongst their peers in having such a specialised diet.
They are another very large bird of prey, considered to be the sixth largest in the world by length. They are similar in appearance but not to be confused with the Black Eagle which is of an entirely different genus.
The Harpy Eagle, is another that’s hard to miss, with its striking black and white plumage and a distinctive feathered crest. It is a powerful predator in the rainforests of Central and South America. With talons larger than a grizzly bear’s claws, it adeptly hunts new-world monkeys and sloths (amongst others), playing a vital role in rainforest ecology. It is the largest of all birds of prey in its range.
Despite their size and skill, due to a range of human and environmental factors, these birds are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.
The Philippine Eagle, also known as the monkey-eating eagle, is a critically endangered species native to the Philippines. With a distinctive tall crest of feathers on its head and a massive beak, it reigns high over its territory. It symbolises both the rich biodiversity and the conservation challenges of the Philippine archipelago. Currently listed as Critically Endangered, it is the most at risk of the large Eagles that are alive today.
The Crowned Eagle, often found in the tall woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, is recognized by its striking crown of feathers. Known as the ‘leopard of the sky,’ with its wings spread out in the sky, revealing its tapestry of light and dark it is easy to see why. It’s quite a fierce hunter too, preying on mammals like monkeys and antelopes. It has a shorter wingspan and lighter frame than the Harpy Eagle with which it shares some range. However, it is still one of the largest eagles in the world by all accounts.
Also similarly to the Harpy Eagle, the Crowned Eagle is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
Table of the Ten Largest Eagles
|Martial Eagle – Polemaetus bellicosus||Sub-Saharan Africa||3.93 to 4.71 kg (8.7 to 10.4 lbs)||78 to 96 cm (2 ft 7 in to 3 ft 2 in)||188 to 260 cm (6 ft 2 in to 8 ft 6 in)||Endangered|
|Steller’s Sea Eagle – Haliaeetus pelagicus||Russia, Japan, Korea, China||5 to 10 kg (11 to 22 lbs)||85 to 105 cm (2 ft 9 in to 3 ft 5 in)||1.95 to 2.50 m (6 ft 5 in to 8 ft 2 in)||Vulnerable|
|American Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus||North America||3 to 7 kg (6.6 to 15 lbs)||70–102 cm (2 ft 4 in –3 ft 4 in)||1.8 and 2.44 m (5 ft 11 in and 8 ft 0 in)||Least Concern|
|White-Tailed Eagle – Haliaeetus albicilla||Europe, Russia, Japan||2.8 to 8 kg (6.2 to 18 lbs)||66 to 94 cm (2 ft 2 in to 3 ft 1 in)||1.78 to 2.45 m (5 ft 10 in to 8 ft 0 in)||Least Concern|
|Golden Eagle – Aquila chrysaetos||Spans the Northern Hemisphere||4.05 and 7.7 kg (8.9 and 17.0 lb)||66 to 102 cm (2 ft 2 in to 3 ft 4 in)||1.8 to 2.34 metres (5 ft 11 in to 7 ft 8 in)||Least Concern|
|Wedge-Tailed Eagle – Aquila audax||Australia||2.0 to 5.8 kg (4.4 to 12.8 lb)||81 to 106 cm (322 ft 8 on to 3 ft 6 in)||182 and 232 cm (6 ft 0 in and 7 ft 7 in)||Least Concern|
|Verreaux’s Eagle – Aquila verreauxii||Southern Africa, Some parts of East Africa||3 to 7 kg (6.6 to 15.4 lb)||75 to 96 cm (2 ft 6 in to 3 ft 2 in)||1.81 to 2.3 m (5 ft 11 in to 7 ft 7 in)||Least Concern|
|Harpy Eagle – Harpia harpyja||Central, South America||4 to 9 kg (8.8 to 20 lb)||86.5 to 107 cm (2 ft 10.1 in to 3 ft 6.1 in)||176 to 224 cm (5 ft 9 in to 7 ft 4 in)||Near Threatened|
|Philippine Eagle – Pithecophaga jefferyi||Philippines||4.04 to 8.0 kg (8.9 to 17.6 lb)||86 to 102 cm (2.82 to 3.35 ft)||184 to 220 cm (6 ft 0 in to 7 ft 3 in)||Critically Endangered|
|Crowned Eagle – Stephanoaetus coronatus||Africa – mostly East and sub-Saharan.||2.55 to 4.7 kg (5.6 to 10.4 lb)||80 to 99 cm (2 ft 7 in to 3 ft 3 in)||1.51 to 1.9 m (4 ft 11 in to 6 ft 3 in)||Near Threatened|
What Is The Largest Eagle In The World By Wingspan?
The Martial Eagle, with its astonishing wingspan of up to 8 feet 6 inches, could claim the title for the largest eagle by wingspan today. However, the average is closer to 6 feet 9 inches. At the average, they may only rank about 4th in terms of wingspan, but by largest recently observed they take the title. This is an arguable point however.
Historically, both the Steller’s Sea Eagle and the Wedge-Tailed Eagle have recorder larger individuals, but such cases have been exceptional. The largest Wedge-Tailed Eagle recorded, had a wingspan of 284 cm (9 ft 4 in) and this was measured in the year 1931. The largest Steller’s Sea Eagle was a similar size. In each case, these were exceptional and by current accounts, none of either species has come close to this in anything other than anecdotal evidence.
What Is The Worlds Largest Eagle By Length?
The Philippine Eagle, also known as the monkey-eating eagle, is considered the largest in terms of length and wing surface combined. However, larger eagles exist in either of those singular characteristics. Their length reaches up to 3.35 feet, and their wingspan up to 6.5 feet.
The Harpy Eagle, Steller’s Sea Eagle and Wedge-Tailed Eagle are all capable of reaching a size upward of 3.6 feet. It is the Harpy Eagle however, that possibly edges the rest out of the way to the title of largest eagle specifically by length. Though this again, is an arguable point and may change as extra data and measurements are recorded. It’s that close!
What Is The Worlds Largest Eagle By Weight?
The Steller’s Sea Eagle, tipping the scales at a maximum of 22 pounds, is considered to be the heaviest eagle in the world. It averages between 5 to 10 kg (11 to 22 lb) but at the heavy end of the scale if beats all others, though competition from the Harpy Eagle is possible in rare cases. It’s wingspan is impressive too, and by some accounts it has the largest wingspan of all the eagles ‘on average’, and by historical accounts early in the last century.
What is the largest eagle ever to have existed?
The Haast’s Eagle (Harpagornis moorei) was a true giant of the past, once soaring over New Zealand. With a wingspan of up to 9.8 feet and weighing between 22 to 33 pounds, it was a formidable predator and larger than any extant eagles in the world today. Fossil evidence, including bones and talons, reveals its existence and provides scientists with insights into its life and extinction around 1400.
What Is The Largest Eagle In North America?
The American Bald Eagle, symbolizing freedom and power in the USA, is the largest eagle in North America, with a wingspan stretching up to 8 feet and a weight up to 15 pounds.
What Is The Largest Eagle In Europe?
The White-Tailed Eagle, with its wingspan reaching up to 8 feet and weighing up to 18 pounds, holds the title for the largest eagle in Europe.
What Is The Largest Eagle In Asia?
The Steller’s Sea Eagle, predominantly found in Russia, Japan, and Korea, is Asia’s largest eagle, boasting a wingspan of 8.3 feet and weighing up to 20 pounds.
What Is The Biggest Bird In The World Today?
The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest living bird today, native to Africa, and is known for its incredible speed on land rather than its flight capabilities.
What was the biggest bird in the world ever?
The Elephant Bird (Aepyornis maximus), which was native to Madagascar and went extinct around the 17th century, is considered the largest bird ever, standing up to 10 feet tall and weighing between 770-1400 pounds.
Fun Eagle Facts For Kids
- Even though eagles are big, they hatch from eggs that are only about 3 inches long!
- The wings of a Martial Eagle are so large that they can be as wide as a car is long!
- The Harpy Eagle’s talons are as big as a grizzly bear’s claws, helping them snatch monkeys and sloths from trees!
- Eagles can soar up to 10,000 feet high and use their keen eyesight, which is 4-8 times stronger than humans, to spot prey from afar!
- The largest eagle nest ever found was 9.5 feet wide and 20 feet deep – that’s big enough for a human to lie down in!