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17 Most Dangerous Birds in the US

Written By Richie Alston


The US is full of some of the most powerful and substantial birds known to man. With such huge wingspans, large talons and sharp beaks, how many of these birds are a danger to you?

Below are 17 of the most dangerous birds that can be found across the US and why they might be a danger to you:

1) Golden Eagle

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Mountains, Hills, Cliffs

Rarity: Uncommon

Latin: Aquila chrysaetos

A large raptor with broad wings, golden eagles are brown with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks. They are often seen soaring in the sky or perched high on mountain ridges.

Danger Factor: They have strong talons and have been known to attack large prey. While not a threat to humans under normal circumstances, they can be dangerous if they feel threatened or if their territory is infringed upon.

2) Bald Eagle

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Lakes, Rivers, Coastal Regions

Rarity: Common

Latin: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

The national bird of the United States, the bald eagle is identifiable by its white head and tail with a dark brown body and wings. Look for them near water, where they hunt for fish.

Danger Factor: They have a powerful build and can be territorial, especially during nesting season, potentially leading to aggressive behavior if approached.

3) Great Horned Owl

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Forests, Deserts, Wetlands

Rarity: Common

Latin: Bubo virginianus

These are robust, ear-tufted owls that can be spotted in a range of habitats, from woodlands to city parks. Their hooting call is a common night sound.

Danger Factor: They have powerful talons and are top predators, capable of attacking prey much larger than themselves. They can be aggressive when defending nests.

4) Red-Tailed Hawk

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Open Country, Woodlands, Cities

Rarity: Common

Latin: Buteo jamaicensis

With a broad, rounded tail usually with a distinctive reddish color, these hawks are often seen perched on telephone poles or soaring in circles overhead.

Danger Factor: These hawks have strong talons and can be aggressive, particularly when defending their territory or young.

5) Peregrine Falcon

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Urban Areas, Cliffs

Rarity: Uncommon

Latin: Falco peregrinus

Fast and sleek, they are known for their speed, diving to catch prey in the air. Look for them high on ledges in urban areas or soaring in open spaces.

Danger Factor: The world’s fastest bird, it strikes prey in flight with tremendous force and has been known to defensively attack humans who venture too close to its nest.

6) Snowy Owl

Location: Northern US

Habitat: Open Areas

Rarity: Rare

Latin: Bubo scandiacus

A large, white owl with variable black markings, spotted in open fields and airports, especially during winter migration.

Danger Factor: Snowy owls are powerful birds that can defend their territory aggressively, and their talons can inflict serious injuries.

7) Barred Owl

Location: Eastern US

Habitat: Dense Woodlands, Swamps

Rarity: Common

Latin: Strix varia

Known for their haunting calls that sound like “who cooks for you,” barred owls have distinctive brown and white striped plumage and do not have ear tufts.

Danger Factor: Although not typically aggressive toward humans, they have been known to swoop down if they feel threatened or if their space is encroached upon.

8) Osprey

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Lakes, Rivers

Rarity: Common

Latin: Pandion haliaetus

Ospreys are fish-eating birds of prey with white undersides and brownish upper parts, often seen flying with a crook in their wings or hovering over water before diving feet-first for fish.

Danger Factor: They are generally not dangerous to humans but can be very protective of their nests and young.

9) Northern Goshawk

Location: Northern US

Habitat: Forested Areas

Rarity: Uncommon

Latin: Accipiter gentilis

These are large hawks with broad, rounded wings and long tails, typically found in wooded areas. They are stealthy and can be hard to spot.

Danger Factor: Goshawks are known for their fierce defense of their nests and can attack humans who get too close.

10) Cooper’s Hawk

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Woodlands

Rarity: Common

Latin: Accipiter cooperii

These medium-sized hawks with rounded wings and a long tail are often found in wooded habitats and can be seen flying with quick, consecutive wing beats.

Danger Factor: Like other raptors, they can become aggressive when nesting and have powerful talons that could cause injury.

11) Common Loon

Location: Northern US

Habitat: Lakes, Rivers

Rarity: Common

Latin: Gavia immer

Loons have striking red eyes, black heads, and necks, with checkered black-and-white backs. They are most often seen on northern lakes and can be heard making eerie, beautiful calls.

Danger Factor: They are not usually a threat to humans but can use their pointed bills in defense if they feel threatened, especially when protecting their chicks.

12) Northern Harrier

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Open Fields, Marshes

Rarity: Common

Latin: Circus cyaneus

These medium-sized raptors have a distinctive white rump patch and a face that resembles an owl’s. Look for them flying low over open fields or marshes.

Danger Factor: While not generally dangerous, they can be aggressive when defending their nests.

13) Turkey Vulture

Location: Nationwide

Habitat: Forested Areas

Rarity: Common

Latin: Cathartes aura

With their large size, dark color, and red head, turkey vultures are often seen soaring with a wobbly motion or perched with wings spread in a “horaltic pose.”

Danger Factor: They are not typically aggressive but could theoretically cause harm with their beak or claws if they were to feel threatened.

14) Black Vulture

Location: Southern US

Habitat: Open Forested Areas

Rarity: Common

Latin: Coragyps atratus

Black vultures are large dark birds with short tails and large wings. Unlike turkey vultures, they have a more direct flight pattern and often roost in large community groups.

Danger Factor: Generally not a danger to humans, they have been known to cause damage to livestock and pets, and can be aggressive when feeding or if they feel threatened.

15) Sandhill Crane

Location: Central US

Habitat: Wetlands, Fields, Prairies

Rarity: Common

Latin: Antigone canadensis

Tall birds with long legs and necks, gray feathers, and red foreheads. They are often seen in open fields or during their notable migratory patterns.

Danger Factor: They can be very territorial and aggressive during breeding season and may attack if they feel their nest is threatened.

16) California Condor

Location: California

Habitat: Rocky Shrubland

Rarity: Rare

Latin: Gymnogyps californianus

The largest North American land bird, these condors have a bald head, primarily black plumage, and can be seen soaring on thermals in the sky.

Danger Factor: While they pose no direct threat to humans, their size and power make them potentially dangerous if cornered or while scavenging.

17) Steller’s Sea-Eagle

Location: Alaska

Habitat: Coastal Regions

Rarity: Rare

Latin: Haliaeetus pelagicus

Rare visitors to the US, these are massive birds with dark brown bodies and wings, with contrasting white shoulders, tails, and thighs. Spot them in coastal areas or along rivers if you’re lucky.

Danger Factor: Included as a rare visitor, they have powerful talons and beaks but are not considered a threat unless provoked or if their nest is approached.

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