Which Birds Have the Biggest Talons?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: May 18, 2022
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If you’re a bird-lover, you already know that there are numerous bird species. It can be challenging to tell them apart even with their distinct body sizes or feeding characteristics. However, you can differentiate them by many features like their feathers, beaks, tails, and talons (sharp claws). When we talk about birds with talons, we refer to large birds of prey(or raptors); These are birds that hunt other animals and feed on their flesh. There are various talon sizes depending on the bird’s size and its feeding demands. This article will discuss the birds of prey with the biggest talons. Let’s get started.

8 Birds With The Biggest Talons

Here’s our list of the top birds with the largest talons:

There are various talon sizes depending on bird size and it’s feeding demands.

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Harpy Eagle 

Largest Birds of Prey - Harpy Eagle
The harpy eagle has the capacity to lift monkeys and crush a human’s arm.

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The harpy eagle is a black, white, and gray-feathered neotropical species. It possesses big, 5-inch talons bigger than a grizzly bear’s claws. With talons as big as that, the harpy eagle remains at the top of the food chain. It can bear a weight larger than its body, with the capacity to lift monkeys and crush a human’s arm.

This bird is highly intimidating, with a potential speed of 50 miles per hour. It sits on the top list of the largest and most powerful. The harpy eagle weighs between 9 and 20 pounds and has a maximum length of over 3 ft.

Giant Philippine Eagle

The Philippine eagle possesses powerful and sharp 4-inch talons that empower it to carry prey four times its size.

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The Giant Philippine eagle is the largest eagle on the planet, considering its wingspan of about 7 feet and length (between 2 and 4 feet). This vicious blue-eyed monster possesses powerful and sharp 4-inch talons that empower it to carry prey four times its size. 

The Steller’s sea eagle and the harpy eagle beat it in terms of weight and size. It is generally called the monkey-eating eagle. However, this doesn’t mean that its neon-yellow talons only allow it to prey on monkeys. It also hunts and kills other animals like snakes, fruit bats, owls, and squirrels.

Steller’s Sea Eagle

Largest Birds of Prey - Steller’s Sea Eagle
Weighing in at up to 20 pounds, the Steller’s sea eagle is the heaviest eagle in the world.

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The Steller’s sea eagle is the largest and heaviest sea eagle. This bird of prey has shorter toes and more curved talons when compared to other birds. However, its feet are powerful enough to carry salmon (which weigh between 5 and 10 pounds) and trout. It typically may not carry prey of around 13 and 15 pounds. The Steller’s sea eagle can weigh up to 20 pounds and has a wingspan above 6 feet. You can find its habitat in Korea, Russia, and Japan. Going by the “sea” in its name, the Steller’s sea eagle makes fish its staple meal.

Bald Eagle

Largest Eagles in the World: American Bald Eagle
The bald eagle’s hind-toe talon can puncture the parts of prey that can trigger paralysis.

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This carnivorous North American eagle species has eight large and powerful hallux talons of almost 2 inches long. Its hind-toe talon can puncture the parts of prey that can trigger paralysis. Meanwhile, the bald eagle’s front toes help it grip its prey in position with force as strong as a vice.

The bald eagle’s main meal is fish, just like Steller’s sea eagle. You can find bald eagles mostly in areas very close to vast water bodies with abundant food supply and trees. The trees provide living quarters for the bald eagle because that is where it makes its nest. The bald eagle is famously known as the national bird of the United States of America. It has a white head and tail, dark-brown plumage, bright-yellow, featherless feet, and short toes. 

Ospreys

Animals That Live in Coral Reefs: Ospreys
An osprey can see from 100 feet above the water.

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This is another raptor that enjoys a fish diet. With a height of 2 feet and a talon length of 1.2 inches, the talons of ospreys are naturally tailored to catch fish. However, they can also feed on other animals such as rabbits and snakes. Ospreys have powerfully-built eyes that can see from 100 feet above the water. These powerful eyes, coupled with their powerful curved talons, help them dive swiftly and snatch fish straight out of the water.

Peregrine Falcon

A Peregrine Falcon with spread wings flying
A peregrine falcon is touted as the fastest bird on the planet and have sharp yellow talons and black claws.

©Harry Collins Photography/Shutterstock.com

This massive falcon with the size of a crow is touted as the fastest bird on the planet. It has a speed above 200 miles per hour when it’s about to swoop. Peregrine falcons are 13-24 inches long, with 29 and 47 inches wingspan.

They weigh between 1 and 3 pounds and have large sharp yellow talons and black claws. The peregrine raptors use these talons to capture other birds like ducks, shorebirds, pigeons, gulls, and songbirds. They can also feed on bats and sometimes include fish and rodents as part of their diet.

Andean Condor

Largest Birds of Prey - Andean Condor
The Andean condor talons are much more adapted for walking than weapons to hunt for prey.

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The Andean condor, also known as the national symbol of Bolivia, has very long, straight, and blunt talons. These big talons are much more adapted for walking than weapons to hunt for prey.

It is the largest vulture on earth and one of the largest birds of prey in the world when you factor in its weight (about 33 pounds) and its wingspan (10 ft 10). With a tuft of white feathers on its neck, this black-feathered bird makes its home among the mountains of South America, where it specializes as an A-list carrion carrier.

Martial Eagle

Largest Eagles in the World: Martial Eagle
The martial eagle has powers in its talons powerful enough to obtain a man’s arm.

©Theodore Mattas/Shutterstock.com

With its sharp long hind-toe hallux claw (about 2.1 inches), the martial eagle punctures the life out of its prey. The inner claw on the front foot is almost as long as the hind-toe claw at 1.81 inches, and the tarsus much longer than in other eagles.

As the largest eagle in Africa, this super powerful eagle can shove adult humans off their feet. Also, it packs much more power in its talons, enough to snag a man’s arm. The martial eagle can be quite terrifying to look at. It has large white talons, which it uses to hunt and kill livestock. This makes the martial eagle a nightmare for African livestock owners who always look for an opportunity to kill it.


The Featured Image

Types of Falcon Birds
A Peregrine Falcon perched on a rock. The peregrine falcon is the most populous and widely dispersed raptor in the world.
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