Very Strong Birds
Name: John B.
Is there any type of "hawk" or bird that can and will pick
up small dogs and cats? If so, what type can do this. Thank you
Your question is interesting. Having no idea where you are writing from,
I will assume you are from the USA. Internationally, there are many,many
birds that can take on live small dogs and cats.
Depending on the "small"ness of the cat or dog, many hawks from within the
United States would be tempted and the larger owls such as the Great
Horned Owl would certainly attempt to take a small cat or dog. I have
heard that there has been evidence to suggest that some cats may have been
taken by GHO's. The GHO's favorite food is the skunk and many have taken
on porcupines with disastrous results. That should give you an idea of
the prey size this bird will take on. The GHO is found throughout the US.
The one bird I do know will take on cats and dogs is the Golden Eagle. Of
course, they are not commonly found except in the western states. Several
claims have include small sheep in the Eagle's prey list.
Great horned owls have been known to catch cats. They are probably the
strongest avian predators in most of eastern North America. Eagles are
certainly large enough, bald eagles of the eastern U.S. rarely catch
mammals, though, they eat mostly fish. Golden eagles in the western US
certainly would be capable of taking a cat or small dog. I do not know of any
hawks that take cats with any regularity.
Because I thought this was an interesting question, I surfed the net a
little to see what I could discover.
I found that the U.S Geological Survey maintains a database called the
Raptor Information System, which can be accessed at
Two interesting results of some searches for "prey" and "dog" were:
Ornithologist and Oologist. 1889. A terrier carried off by an eagle.
Ornithologist and Oologist 14:78.
Breckenridge, W.J. 1960. A bald eagle exploit: Dog rescues collie
attacked by eagle. Flicker 32:63.
Also, a site in Australia referred to eagles there preying on feral
So, it looks like eagles could be a legitimate concern.
At its site http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/pamphlet/prob.html#2f the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service includes a section on "BACKYARD BIRD
PROBLEMS." They advise that: "The best solution to most raptor problems
is prevention. Keep your pets indoors, and your livestock in pens."
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Update: June 2012