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Interspecies Conflict/Bald Eagle vs Emperor Penguin


Hi bk, who would win between a bald eagle and an emperor penguin?


Hello Gian.

Bald Eagle vs Emperor Penguin: An emperor penguin can weigh about 6 times as much as a bald eagle.  The bald eagle can weigh over 13lb and have an 8ft wingspan.  Bald eagles primarily eat fish, birds, and small mammals.  They are excellent hunters armed with a hooked bill (for tearing into flesh) and powerful talons (to seize and control struggling prey).  The emperor penguin is the largest penguin, standing close to 4ft tall and typically attaining a top weight of 82lb or more (some can approach 100lb in weight).  This bird is covered with thickly-packed feathers and a layer of fat over 1" thick to protect it from the harsh conditions of coastal Antarctica.  The emperor penguin is an excellent swimmer, but is rather clumsy on land.  Some penguins may hit each other with their "wings" (flippers) in squabbles and actually have the ability to peck and bite effectively.  A battle between a bald eagle and an emperor penguin won't be the fairest of contests because the eagle flies and the penguin doesn't, and the eagle's effectiveness as a hunter is demonstrated when it attacks from the air.  A penguin won't be able to keep the eagle from executing an aerial strike even if it sees the raptor coming, but the eagle won't have a good chance if the battle starts on the ground with the two birds aware of each other's presence.  The emperor penguin will be too strong for the eagle to battle if the eagle doesn't use the advantage of flight (an eagle isn't physically built to withstand a close-quarters confrontation with a much larger animal and will risk injury if ambush isn't used).  A bald eagle is certainly equipped to kill an emperor penguin by attacking it from the air (much like the 30lb Haast's eagle was able to predate upon the 400lb moa), but would have trouble dispatching one with a hypothetical land attack (much like how a Haast's eagle would not have a chance against a moa if it attempted an hypothetical attack by walking up to it).  It's not easy to make a "fair" contest when a bird of prey is pitted against a terrestrial animal in a hypothetical battle; the bird will have a much better chance if it attacks from the air and may have an extremely poor chance if it tries (for whatever reason) to attack without leaving the ground.  If climate and circumstance placed these 2 species in the same habitat, the bald eagle would likely be a feared predator of the emperor penguin and would have a chance to kill an adult one (but would likely target young ones to reduce the chance of injury).  It depends on how you look at it, but I only favor the bald eagle with an air attack.

Interesting matchup!

Best regards.

Interspecies Conflict

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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