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The Mighty Hunters: Discover The 10 Largest Birds Of Prey In The World

Birds of prey have captivated humans throughout history with their majestic flight and predatory prowess. These magnificent creatures, also known as raptors, play an essential role in keeping ecosystems balanced by controlling populations of small mammals, birds, and reptiles. There are numerous different birds of prey species, but which are the largest birds of prey?

There are many birds of prey species in the world, but the following ten are known to be the largest:

  • Andean CondorCalifornia Condor
  • Himalayan Vulture
  • Eurasian Black Vulture
  • Steller’s Sea Eagle
  • White-Tailed Eagle
  • Philippine Eagle
  • Lappet-Faced Vulture
  • Golden Eagle
  • Lammergeier

Knowing the names of some of the largest raptors in the world is one thing, but what is a bird of prey? What makes them unique, how can you identify them, and what are some conservation efforts to protect their habitats? Once you know this information, you will better understand these majestic creatures, including the world’s top 10 largest birds of prey.

The World’s Top 10 Largest Birds Of Prey

Birds of prey have captured the imagination of people around the world for centuries. Their majestic but somewhat dangerous appearance and characteristics give them a sense of attractive and wonderous magic.

When deciding which of these regal creatures is the largest raptor bird in the world, it is up for debate as opinions differ amongst bird enthusiasts, ornithologists, and other scientists worldwide. We considered weight and wingspan to give you the top 10 largest birds of prey in the world.

Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)

Generally considered the largest flying bird of prey in the world, the Andean Condor has a wingspan of approximately 10.5 ft (3.2 m) and weighs about 30 lb (14kg). These birds are unique because the females are smaller than the males.

  • Physical characteristics: Body feathers are black, with white feathers around the neck. The necks and heads are naked.
  • Habitat: Found in the Andes Mountains of South America, they inhabit open grasslands and alpine regions.
  • Diet: Their diet primarily consists of carrion, but they may occasionally prey on small mammals and birds.
  • Conservation status: Vulnerable

California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

Depending on your source, many consider the California Condor the largest raptor in the Americas. It boasts a wingspan of around 9.8 ft (3 m) and weighs about 17 to 25 lb (7.7 to 11.3 kg). An amazing fact about this largest bird of prey is that it can live up to 45 years.

  • Physical characteristics: It has mainly black feathers with white patches underneath the wings, a featherless head, and a fleshy, pinkish-orange head and neck.
  • Habitat: Historically found in western North America, they now inhabit a few regions in California, Arizona, and Baja California.
  • Diet: Like the Andean Condor, they feed on carrion.
  • Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayensis)

The Himalayan Vulture is considered one of the two largest Old World raptors and features an impressive wing span of around 8 to 9 ft (2.4 to 2.7 m) with an average weight of 17 to 26 lb (8 to 12 kg).

  • Physical characteristics: The Himalayan Vulture is a large and robust bird with a wingspan that matches its body length. It has dark brown feathers, a feathered neck, a pale bill, and a bald, wrinkled head.
  • Habitat: The Himalayan Vulture is found in mountainous regions, specifically in the higher reaches of the Himalayas, often inhabiting open areas and high-altitude plateaus.
  • Diet: It is a scavenger, mainly on carrion and bone marrow.
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened

Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus)

This vulture tends to nest on cliff faces and is a dedicated parent to its chicks. With a wingspan that measures around 8.5 to 10 ft (2.6 to 3 m) and a weight of 20 to 29 lb (9 to 13 kg), it’s no wonder many consider this bird one of the world’s largest raptors.

  • Physical characteristics: It has black/ brown feathers, bluish-grey skin on its neck and head, and a whitish coloration above its eyes.
  • Habitat: The Eurasian Black Vulture inhabits open areas, including steppes, grasslands, and mountains, with a preference for rugged terrain and cliffs.
  • Diet: It is a scavenger, feeding on carrion, including large mammal carcasses.
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened

Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)

Many consider the Steller Sea Eagle the heaviest eagle in the world, weighing in at around 15 - 20 lb (7 - 9 kg) with a wingspan of about 6.5 to 8 ft (2 to 2.5 m).

  • Physical characteristics: It has a white head and neck, dark brown body feathers, and a massive, hooked yellow beak.
  • Habitat: They breed in northeastern Russia and spend winters along the coasts of Russia, Japan, and Korea.
  • Diet: Their diet includes fish, water birds, and carrion.
  • Conservation status: Vulnerable

White-Tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)

This species has one of the largest populations of eagles in Europe, and you can often locate them fishing or nesting around Norway. The White-tailed eagle is considered one of the largest raptors in Europe, with a wingspan of up to 8.2 ft (2.5 m) and weighing in at 9 to 15 lb (4 to 7 kg).

  • Physical characteristics: Large and dark brown, with a long, wedge-shaped tail and feathered legs.
  • Habitat: They inhabit coastal areas, estuaries, and large inland lakes in Europe and Asia.
  • Diet: They primarily feed on fish, scavenge on carrion, and occasionally hunt birds and mammals.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)

The Philippine eagle lives in rainforests, and because of where it lives, its body has evolved to be slightly more slender than other eagles, with a wingspan of about 6.5 to 7 ft (2 to 2.2 m) and weighing in at 13 to 18 lb (6 to 8 kg).

  • Physical characteristics: Large, dark brown feathers, shaggy crest, and striking blue eyes.
  • Habitat: Endemic to the Philippines, they inhabit tropical forests.
  • Diet: Their diet mainly consists of monkeys, flying lemurs, and other small mammals.
  • Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Lappet-Faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos)

The Lappet-Faced Vulture is one of the more aggressive birds of prey on the list, weighing in at approximately 13 to 26 lb (6 to 12 kg), with a wingspan of up to 9.5 ft (2.9 m).

  • Physical characteristics: ****It has black feathers, a featherless head and neck covered in wrinkled skin, a large and powerful hooked beak, and its most distinctive feature is the fleshy lappets of skin that hang down from its neck.
  • Habitat: The Lappet-faced Vulture inhabits arid and semi-arid regions, including savannas and deserts, and often finds itself near water sources.
  • Diet: It is a scavenger, primarily feeding on carrion, including large mammal carcasses.
  • Conservation status: Endangered

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

The Golden Eagle has quite a reputation. It is a formidable aerial predator known to snack on other birds of prey if the opportunity presents itself. They have a wingspan from 6 to 7.5 ft (1.8 to 2.3 m) and weigh in at approximately 7 to 14 lb (3 to 6.4 kg).

  • Physical characteristics: Dark brown feathers with a golden-brown nape, powerful body, and large, strong talons.
  • Habitat: They inhabit open mountainous areas, grasslands, and tundra regions across northern Africa, Eurasia, and North America.
  • Diet: Their diet comprises small to medium-sized mammals, birds, and carrion.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern

Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus)

This raptor is also known by the name Bearded Vulture, and its wingspan can reach a length of approximately 7.5 to 9.5 ft (2.3 to 2.9 m) and get to a weight of 11 to 15 lb (5 to 7 kg).

  • Physical characteristics: It has a rusty orange body, black wings, a white head, and a distinct “beard” of long feathers on its chin, with a wedge-shaped tail and powerful, broad wings.
  • Habitat: The Lammergeier is found in rugged mountainous regions, often inhabiting high-altitude areas, cliffs, and rocky landscapes.
  • Diet: It is primarily a scavenger, feeding on carrion, bones, and bone marrow.
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened

What Are Birds Of Prey, And Why Are They Important?

Birds of prey, also commonly known as raptors, are carnivorous birds characterized by their keen eyesight, strong talons, and hooked beaks. They are renowned for their exceptional hunting skills and play a crucial role as top or apex predators in the ecosystem.

By controlling populations of prey species, they help maintain a balance in the food chain and prevent the overpopulation of certain animals. Moreover, raptors serve as indicators of ecosystem health, as their presence or absence can reflect the overall well-being of an ecosystem.

What Makes Birds Of Prey So Unique?

These magnificent birds have inspired awe and wonder across cultures. Here are a few fascinating facts associated with them, showing their uniqueness in the bird world:

  • Speed and agility: Raptors are known for their incredible flight abilities, soaring through the skies with precision and speed. Some can reach over 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) during hunting dives. Many consider the Perrigrin Falcon the fasted animal on the planet, as it can reach 220 mph (354 km/h) when diving for prey.
  • Visual acuity: Birds of prey possess remarkable eyesight, which means they can spot prey from great distances. Some birds of prey can see up to five times better than an average person.
  • Unique hunting techniques: Each species of bird of prey has developed unique hunting methods. For example, the Bearded Vulture can crack open bones by dropping them from high altitudes onto rocky surfaces, a behavior known as “bone-breaking.”
  • Cultural significance: Birds of prey have held significant cultural symbolism throughout history. For instance, many Native American cultures revere the Golden Eagle as a symbol of strength and bravery.

What Are Some Tips For Spotting These Birds In The Wild?

Birdwatching can be an exciting and rewarding experience, especially when observing birds of prey in their natural habitats. Here are some tips to enhance your birdwatching adventures:

  • Research and study: Familiarize yourself with the species you will most likely encounter in your area. Learn about their physical characteristics, habitat preferences, and behavioral patterns.
  • Optimize your equipment: Invest in a pair of binoculars suitable for birdwatching. Look for models with good magnification and a wide field of view.
  • Observe from a distance: Birds of prey are sensitive to disturbances. Maintain a respectful distance and use binoculars to observe them without causing stress or disrupting their natural behavior.
  • Study flight patterns: Raptors have distinctive flight patterns that can aid identification. Observe their wing shape, flight style, and posture to help distinguish between different species.
  • Recognize key features: Pay attention to features such as beak shape, size, and coloration, as well as plumage patterns, tail shape, and wing markings.
  • Listen for vocalizations: Birds of prey often communicate through calls and vocalizations. Familiarizing yourself with their unique sounds can further assist in identification.

Key Ways To Help Protect Raptors And Their Habitats

Conservation efforts are crucial for these majestic birds’ survival and for preserving their habitats. Here are some initiatives and organizations dedicated to their protection:

  • Habitat preservation: Protecting and conserving natural habitats is vital for raptors. Efforts to establish protected areas, restore degraded habitats, and promote sustainable land management practices help ensure prey populations and the availability of suitable nesting sites.
  • Anti-poaching measures: Implementing anti-poaching measures is essential to combat illegal hunting and trapping, which pose significant threats to raptors. Enforcement of wildlife protection laws, community engagement, and raising awareness about the importance of raptors in ecosystems can aid in reducing these activities.
  • Rehabilitation and Release programs: Rehabilitation centers are critical in rescuing and rehabilitating injured or orphaned raptors. These centers provide veterinary care and rehabilitation, releasing the birds back into the wild when possible.
  • Research and monitoring: Conducting scientific research and monitoring populations help track changes in raptor populations, identify threats, and develop effective conservation strategies. Monitoring can involve tracking migration patterns, studying breeding behavior, and assessing the impacts of habitat loss and climate change.
  • International organizations: Several organizations focus on raptor conservation, including the Raptor Research Foundation, BirdLife International, and The Peregrine Fund.


The world’s largest birds of prey are awe-inspiring creatures that command our respect and admiration. Their impressive size, hunting skills, and unique adaptations make them vital components of ecosystems.

By understanding their importance, learning about their characteristics, and supporting conservation efforts, we can contribute to preserving these majestic birds and their habitats for generations to come.