Bald Eagle & Red Tailed Hawk Face Off In Mid-Air Dogfight

Eagle vs red tail hawk
Ferris Akel

A battle of the birds.

What happens when two of the sky’s fiercest flying predators cross paths high up in the air? Thanks to this video, which has amassed just short of 2.5 million views on YouTube, we have an idea of what a Bald eagle versus Red-tailed hawk battle looks alike.

Most of the time, these two birds of prey would prefer to keep their encounters closer to the ground. Both hawks and eagles ideally like to catch their victims by surprise, often using their great vision (hence the phrases “eagle-eyed” and “eyes like a hawk”) to spot prey from afar and swoop down to grab them before they even know what hits them.

That’s why we’ve seen videos of Bald eagles trying to pick up yappy dogs, or Red-tailed hawks crashing down into a car’s windshield trying to get a kitten that’s inside. If the birds had their way, they’d almost always rather crash land into their targets and use their sharp talons to “finish the job.”

So when the battle is instead up in the air, strategies change for both sides. A Bald eagle would naturally have somewhat of an advantage just because of their size comparative to a Red-tailed hawk.

Bald eagles weigh anywhere between six and fifteen pounds (with females actually weighing more than males) and have a wingspan range of six to eight feet.

That stands to be an increasingly tough test for a Red-tailed hawk, which usually weighs somewhere around one to five pounds with a three to five foot wingspan. Long story short, the two predatory birds wouldn’t even be in the same weight class if it were an official, regulated showdown.

But as you already know, nature has no rules, which is why wild animals always have to keep their heads on a swivel to avoid being attacked (which must be exhausting, right?).

In this remarkable video, it seems as though it was the Bald eagle that was caught off guard by the Red-tailed hawk. The two large birds are on a collision course with one another, and the hawk appears to “have the high ground,” even though both of them are high up in the sky.

Positioning doesn’t end up mattering all that much, because with only seconds to spare, the Bald eagle does a (badass) barrel roll while suspended in the air, putting its sharp talons in between itself and the hawk. I’m trying to be professional here, but it was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen (cue “God Bless The U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood).

And you can call me out if I’m wrong, but to me, it looks like the move literally scared the sh*t out of the Red-tailed hawk. Something white falls out of the sky right after the two birds pass by one another, and I’m willing to bet that the hawk was responsible for excreting that white substance.

The birds then go on their separate ways, and I believe a larger scale confrontation was avoided only because the Bald eagle pulled out that SICK defensive maneuver. You can see if you agree with me by checking out the wild aerial encounter below:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock