Beauty vs. The Beast: Watch a Swan Boldly Attack an Eagle

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: October 19, 2023
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When we think of the most powerful birds in the world, the top of the list is usually some type of eagle. Eagles are known to be ferocious hunters, incredible fliers, and some of the most beautiful birds in the entire sky. Although they are usually the birds to be on the offensive, a clip from one video shows that it isn’t always the case!

Watch the Incredible Video Below!

In a video taken only a few years ago, we see that eagles, despite being some of the most dominant predators in the sky, can even be frightened themselves. The video shows a beautiful white-tailed eagle bathing in a body of water, probably a small pond or lake. As it bathes, it keeps an eye out for any predators that may cause it harm, just to be sure.

Within moments, the eagle tilts its head and looks toward something that the camera hasn’t picked up yet. Suddenly, a burst of white feathers comes from the side and heads straight for the eagle as it’s bathing! Leaping into the air, the startled eagle tries to get a few flaps in before it’s taken down by whatever this aggressive animal was.

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Soon, we are able to see the creature that was able to send a full-grown eagle into a panic; a white swan! Incredibly, a gentle swan was able to scare off one of the top flying predators in the entire world. As crazy as it sounds, however, it probably isn’t that surprising.

In order to understand this scenario, it’s important to understand swans. In the video, we see that the swan that is attacking the eagle is mostly white, meaning it’s probably a mute swan. Mute swans are quite beautiful, but they are known to be extremely territorial. In fact, mute swans can be so territorial that a pair of them will kick out any other birds on a smaller pond, leaving just the two of them to breed.

group of baby swan cygnets

Swans can be very territorial, and see eagles as threats to their young.

© Potashkin

Since the eagle is considered a threat to swans, especially their chicks, the swan felt it had to do something. The eagle on the pond, a white-tailed eagle, is a known predator that preys around open bodies of water. In fact, white-tailed eagles have two primary food sources: fish and waterfowl. If it wasn’t for the angry mama swam, the eagle may have ended up having a quick post-bath snack!

When a mute swan attacks, it usually starts off by hissing. Then, if the predator doesn’t leave, it will physically attack the threat. Using bony spurs in their wings, they swing at the wings of birds and bite with their beaks. Swans are powerful enough to harm birds, although the belief that they are able to break a man’s leg is untrue. Still, there have been instances of adult swans attacking and drowning large dog breeds that try and attack them in parks across Europe.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that a mama swan is not to be trifled with!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © TETSU Snowdrop/

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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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