The most powerful birds in existence are birds of prey because of their size and strength. Raptors are not just strong fliers but they are also strong in terms of their weight-carrying capacities.
What bird can carry the most weight? Many species of eagles and other birds of prey are capable of carrying heavy prey compared to other small species of birds. Below is a list of the strongest extant species of birds. Read on to know more.
Table of Contents
- List of Birds That Can Carry the Most Weight
- Can an Eagle Carry a Human Being?
- Frequently Asked Questions
List of Birds That Can Carry the Most Weight
1. Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)
The harpy eagle, commonly referred to as the American harpy eagle, is found in the Neotropics. It is considered one of the strongest birds among the species of raptors and the biggest among the lot.
Harpy eagles are usually found in rainforests across Central and South America. They are a vulnerable species. Their existence is threatened because of logging and eagle hunters.
They are top predators because of their size, strength, and stealth. It’s not surprising to see a harpy eagle carry heavy prey easily, even those equivalent to half of its size.
- This species’ recorded maximum carrying capacity is 18 kg or 40 pounds, which means it is at the top of the rank among birds that can lift the most weight.
2. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
The bald eagle is a majestic raptor with a hefty body weight, a long, curved beak, and expansive wings. Bald eagles are one of the most powerful birds in existence. They are usually found near large bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, as well as coastlines and marshlands.
Their main diet is fish, comprising up to more than half of their diet. They also eat small mammals and reptiles. They usually swoop down on their prey and grasp them tight with their strong talons to secure them during flight.
The strength of a bald eagle’s grip is ten times greater than humans, giving one an idea of how much an eagle can lift.
They can fly with fish that are equivalent to their weight. Thus anything more than that can make flying difficult for the bald eagle.
So, what is the heaviest known weight can a bald eagle carry?
- Although there have been recorded sightings of bald eagles carrying a mule deer weighing more than its weight at 8 kilograms (14.9 pounds), this was observed to be under favorable conditions such as a good tailwind.
3. Steller’s Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)
Also known as the Pacific Eagle, Steller’s Sea eagle is one of the largest species of an eagle under the genus Haliaeetus.
Females are larger than males at an average weight of 6.2 to 9.5 kilograms (13.7 to 20.9 pounds). The males weigh an average of 4.9 to 6.8 kilograms (10.8 to 15.0 pounds).
The Steller’s Sea eagle is commonly found in the far east Russian peninsula of Kamchatka, where most prefer to breed. They migrate in the winter to other Asian countries such as China, Japan, and Korea.
Their main diet is fish, preying mostly on species of salmon and trout.
- The average weight of pink and chum salmon is 2.2 to 5 kilograms, but Steller’s Sea eagles are one of the toughest birds and are known to carry fish as heavy as 6 to 7 kilograms (13 to 15 pounds).
4. Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
The golden eagle is another species under the Accipitridae family of eagles, but its numbers are abundant, and is not a threatened species like the harpy eagle.
This powerful dark brown raptor is largely found in the Northern Hemisphere at the Arctic borders of Eurasia. They prefer to live in mountainous and rocky areas and open areas with vegetation where they hunt and nest.
So, how much weight can a golden eagle lift?
- The golden eagle can lift and consume prey as one meal, weighing as much as 900 grams or 2 pounds. It is also known, albeit infrequently, to take on larger prey such as seals, hooved mammals, and badgers.
5. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Also known as the tiger owl, this bird of prey is native to the American continent. They like to feed on rabbits, hares, and rodents.
In terms of weight, it is the heaviest among the species found in Central and South America, at an average weight of 1.608 kilograms in females and 1.224 kilograms in males. It ranks second in importance to the Snowy owl, which is found in North America.
- They are considered strong because they can lift prey four times its body weight. Their long and strong talons make it easy for them to grasp their prey. The strength of their grip is equivalent to that of a bald eagle.
6. Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)
The Philippine Eagle is also known by the nickname monkey-eating Eagle because of early sightings and reports that it only feeds on monkeys. The International Union tags this species for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a critically endangered species found only in the dense forests of the Philippines.
It is the largest species of Eagle in the world based on length and wingspan.
- It has an average length of 86 to 102 centimeters (2.82 to 3.35 feet). The wingspan is 184 to 220 centimeters or as broad as 6 to 7 feet!
- It has brown and white feathers, a bushy crest framing the head, and a large gray beak. The legs are yellow, and the large claws are black.
- It has a long tarsus that measures almost 8 to 5.7 inches long, the longest found among eagle species.
It preys on small and large animals or whatever is abundant on their hunting grounds. What weight can an eagle pick up?
- This species swoop on bats as small as 10 grams and are known to lift a macaque monkey as heavy as 9 kilograms (20 pounds) which could be equal to or even larger than the Eagle’s weight.
Can an Eagle Carry a Human Being?
An adult human being is too heavy for an eagle to carry. No bird can lift a human of average adult size. Eagles are not likely to prey on humans by choice because they prefer to avoid humans.
They can act defensive towards humans and attack only when their nest is in danger.
Frequently Asked Questions
What weight can a vulture carry?
Compared to eagles and other birds of prey, vultures do not usually carry live prey and prefer to eat carrion on the site where they are found. They can only carry a maximum of 2 pounds in flight.
Read more: How much weight can a vulture carry?
What makes birds strong?
The anatomical features of a bird will determine its strength, such as size and body weight. Larger and wider wingspan makes them strong fliers, allowing birds to lift their prey in the air at a certain distance. Large talons and a strong and sturdy beak contribute to their strength, allowing them to grip their prey and tear them down into pieces.
The ability to lift weights is a survival skill in the wild. The raptors are a clever and strong group of birds. Their hunting behavior and capacity to lift heavy prey make them superior to other winged animals.
Now that you read about what bird can carry the most weight, you can appreciate these birds of prey more. If this article was helpful, share what you know with others by sending them a link to this article.
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