Largest Eagles in the World
Eagles are symbols of strength and courage, being so for good reason. As birds of prey, they feed on other animals and have become apex predators in their natural habitats. Not only do they have razor-sharp talons and piercing beaks, but their agility in the air means they can swoop down on prey with deadly stealth and accuracy. Although myths that eagles can pick up prey as large as a small person are unfounded, the larger the bird, the larger the prey they can kill.
At thedailyECO, we look at the 10 largest eagles in the world. In addition to providing information on these big eagles, we show photos so you can see what they look like for yourself.
- Haast's eagle (Hieraaetus moorei)
- Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)
- Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)
- Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja)
- Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax)
- Black eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
- Martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)
- Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
- White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
- Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Haast's eagle (Hieraaetus moorei)
The largest eagle known to live is unfortunately no longer alive. The Haast's eagle was a bird from New Zealand which became extinct around 1400 CE, around the time the main settlement period began. This is largely due to the presence of another bird in New Zealand, a large flightless bird known as a moa. These birds became a major food source for humans, but they were also the main prey of the Haast's eagle. The humans killed the eagle to protect their food source and eventually resulted in its extinction.
The Haast's eagle is the largest eagle species that has ever existed in terms of mass, with a weight of 33 lb (15 kg) not seen in any eagle since. Their wingspan was an average size of 4.6 ' (1.4 m). The Maoris called it pouakai, thought at one stage to be a mythological bird.
Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)
The next largest eagle species is the biggest extant bird of prey in the world. On average, they measure about 2.82 to 3.35' (86 to 102 cm) in length with a wingspan which can reach up to 7.2' (2.2 m). They can hunt a wide range of prey animals, including primates, lizards and colugos. Their propensity for killing primates have given them the additional common name of the monkey-eatin eagle. As you can see in the photo below, they have a distinctive crest of feathers on their head.
In addition to the largest eagles in the world, check out our related article on the largest birds in the world in general.
Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)
This is the largest eagle in terms of weight, averaging 15.8 lb (7.2 kg). Its wingspan is also considerably large averaging 7.2' (2.2 m) from wing to wing, making it the eagle with the largest average wingspan of all. They are 100 cm tall on average. This sea eagle lives in Northeast Asia. They are distinct from other large eagle species due to their dark brown and white plumage with a contrasting bill and yellow legs.
Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja)
The harpy eagle has a Neotropical distribution and is the largest eagle in Central America. It can measure over 3.5' in total length and weighs up to 22 lb, although a captive bird managed to reach as much as 27 lb. Their large size helps them to penetrate the thick jungle coverage of their natural habitat. They also have the largest talons of any living eagle, being able to grab mammals as large as a sloth from trees.
Learn more about the flora and fauna of the harpy eagle habitat by looking at our guide to jungle ecosystems.
Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax)
It is the largest eagle in Australia, having an average wingspan of 6.8' (2.07 m) and an average size of 3' (93 cm) in height. It is an opportunistic predator that consumes all kinds of animals, from mammals to lizards and even wallabies. They can supplement their diet with carrion, i.e. dead prey from other hunters.
Black eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
Measuring 2.4 to 3.1' (75 to 96 cm) in length, it is the sixth largest eagle in the world, although some claim the martial eagle should be considered larger. They live in the Middle East and Southern Africa where they have a highly specialized diet. They feed mainly on a small African mammal known as the hyrax. When hyraxes are in short supply, they may feed on monkeys, antelopes, or any large vertebrate they might find.
Martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)
Depending on some accoutns, the martial eagle is the largest eagle in Africa and the seventh largest in the world. It measures an average of 2.8' (85 cm) in height. Its wingspan measures an average of 6.5' (2 meters), having the fourth largest wingspan in eagles.
Martial eagles are dark brown in color, although they have a white breast mottled with black spots. It also has a feather crest on the back of its head which gives it a unique look. This eagle has been highly persecuted because it can feed on livestock, which is why they have been hunted almost to the point of extinction.
Learn more about types of extinct animals with our guide to different types of megafauna.
Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
It measures between 2.3 to 3.1' (71 to 96 cm) in height and is recognizable by its brown feathers, white head, and yellow bill. It belongs to the group of eagles known as sea eagles. It lives only in North America, reaching as far as Mexico. Their habitat is near bodies of water where it hunts live fish or collects floating dead ones. Many hunt cooperatively to be more successful. Their nest is the largest of all tree nests in the animal kingdom, measuring 4 meters deep and 3 meters wide.
White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
This is the largest eagle in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. It lives in northern Eurasia, and is also a sea eagle that feeds on fish it catches from the air. It measures between 2.1 to 3.1' (66 to 94 cm) in length and has an average wingspan of 6.9' (2.1 m).
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
This eagle measures between 1.9 and 3.3' (60 and 100 cm) from beak to tail. They are is brown in color and have a pale head in contrast. Its tail is very long compared to other eagles. Together with its wide wings, they are able to gracefully glide over the earth's surface in search of food. It lives in the northern hemisphere, extending to the limits of Mexico, North Africa and Asia. They hunt from great height, with their sharp vision that can detect prey from 1.8 miles (3 km) away.
You may be surprised to know that birds of prey like the eagle are more closely related to dinosaurs than you may think. This can be seen in the fact they are also known as raptors. Learn more with our article on how many types of dinosaurs were there?
If you want to read similar articles to Largest Eagles in the World, we recommend you visit our Facts about animals category.
- Beatty, R., Beer, A., & Deeming, C. (2010). The book of nature. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley.