Watch a Bald Eagle Harass and Dive Bomb an Adult Grizzly

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: December 30, 2023

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bald eagle in flight

The bald eagle is synonymous with the U.S. and has been the national bird since 1782. They live almost exclusively in North America and prefer habitats that are forested and have a water source. However, they have been sighted elsewhere including Bermuda and the Arctic.

Grizzly bear on cliff

As grizzly bears and bald eagles prefer the same sorts of habitats, it’s not surprising that the two species cross paths on occasion.

©Dennis W Donohue/

The grizzly bear is also a famous resident of North America and likes a similar habitat. So it is not surprising that these two species come across each other from time to time. Most of the time, they tend to ignore each other.

That is not what we see in this video, however! In this extraordinary footage, we see a brave bald eagle swoop down from a height and grasp a grizzly’s head! The bird soon realizes that this is not a great idea, releases its grip, and flies away.

Bald Eagles and Their Prey

For a bald eagle to behave in this way, it probably interpreted the bear as a threat or as prey. Could it have not seen the bear properly? Of course, we don’t know anything about the eyesight of this particular eagle but, in general, bald eagles have fantastic eyesight.

They can see four or even five times better than we humans. They can see ultraviolet light and we cannot.  Also, they have a 340-degree field of view. This means that they are able to spot prey accurately and spot threats as well.

bald eagle perched on column

Bald eagles have 4 to 5 times stronger eyesight than humans.


So, what do bald eagles usually prey on? You will not be surprised to know that grizzly bears are not high up on their list of food. Instead, they hunt small mammals, fish, and waterfowl.

They will also eat animals that other predators have caught as this gets them a meal without having to put much effort in! So, it’s unlikely that the eagle saw the grizzly as a potential snack.

However, grizzlies will also eat small mammals and fish and will eat animals that have been killed by other predators so perhaps these two animals were heading for the same meal.

Nesting Bald Eagles

giant baby eagle nest

Bald eagle nests are made of sticks, moss, and twigs and can be six feet in diameter.

©Tom Clausen/

It is also possible that the eagle perceived the bear as a threat to its nest. Grizzlies (and all birds) are opportunistic feeders and will certainly have a taste of birds’ eggs if they come across a nest.

Even though eagles prefer to nest in trees, they sometimes nest on the ground, and this leaves the eggs vulnerable to attack by a bear. The nests are huge — they can be six feet in diameter! Perhaps one has been spotted by this bear, and the eagle is warning it off.

Is it Normal for Bald Eagles to Attack Grizzly Bears?

Bald eagles won’t prey upon grizzly bears as they are usually too big to carry off for a food source.

© Bock

As stated above, bald eagles are only aggressive when their nests are threatened or they are feeling territorial. This type of behavior is fairly normal among birds of prey. Bald eagles won’t target grizzly bears as they are usually too large to carry off for a food source. It is likely the bird in this video was protecting its young, its area, or feeling threatened by this large predator.

Additionally, bald eagles have been known to attack humans, but it is far from lethal and mostly due to humans getting too close to their territory.

How Large Are Bald Eagles vs. Grizzly Bears?

Rescued grizzly bear scratches his back on a tree at sanctuary in Golden, British Columbia, Canada. Boo the bear lives at the Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre.

A grizzly bear can stand from 7 to 9 feet tall on its hind legs.

©Andrea C. Miller/

The weight of a bald eagle varies, depending on sex. While a male typically weighs from 6 to 9 pounds, the female is heavier with a weight between 10 and 15 pounds. The height of either sex is 28 to 38 inches, while its wingspans can stretch from 5.5 to 8 feet. Bald eagles also have a talon grip of 400PSI and can lift an average of 4 to 6 pounds, while some have lifted as much as 10 pounds.

When it comes to the grizzly bear, the male dominates with an average weight of 400 to 790 pounds, while females typically weigh from 290 to 400 pounds. Coastal populations can average up to 899 pounds. To the shoulder, grizzly bears usually measure 3 to 5 feet tall, however, they can stand from 7 to 9 feet tall on their hind legs.

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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