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Name: John B.
Status: other
Age:  40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999-2001

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.

Steve Sample

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. J. Elliott

Dear John:

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 cats.

So, it looks like eagles could be a legitimate concern.

At its site 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."

Tom Douglas

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