This trope pertains to eagles, hawks, falcons and other similar species of bird. Generally considered to be symbols of freedom, majesty, leadership etc. They often appear as guardians, guides or messengers
. They can sometimes also symbolize foreboding danger, although crows
have this association more.
Eagles, being one of the largest groups of raptor, and having associations with Eagle Land
, are usually seen as the Biggest and most Badass of the bunch and carry connotations of power and regality in addition to the usual traits of bird of prey. Hawks and falcons have slightly different associations from eagles, stemming in part from the sport of falconry. They are less likely to be depicted as majestic, more likely to be used as symbols of aggression. Contrasting with the image of freedom Big Badass Birds Of Prey
typically carry, they may even have association with the idea of servility. A falcon trained to hunt for its falconer would be an example of the power of a Big Badass Bird of Prey
being more controlled and restrained, for instance. Even the idea of the dissolution of servitude is played with in some works
to represent unrestrained chaos and anarchy. Owls may be considered Big Badass Birds Of Prey
at times, but they also have a trope of their own
that overlaps with doom and foreboding of Ravens and Crows
and another trope on top of that, which represents them as a font of knowledge
Oftentimes creators will go out of their way to make the Big Badass Bird of Prey
even more Badass
somehow. Usually this is by giving them attributes from another bird of prey
, with the most common variant being to have the bird in question make the majestic and frightening scream of a red tailed hawk
regardless of species. Another less-common variant of this is to give a smaller and less-impressive bird of prey the body of an eagle. In other cases the Big Badass Bird of Prey
will be given traits not common to any bird, such as the ability to set itself on fire
, create lightning and thunder with their wings, or carry off whole elephants, which are abilities that are specific to The Phoenix
, thunderbirds, The Roc, respectively. The last has no relationship to wrestler Dwayne Johnson
The ultimate Trope Maker
is Imperial Rome, which used the eagle as a symbol. This means this trope is Older Than Feudalism
. Its associations with Rome lead to its widespread use in medieval Europe to evoke the glories of the former Byzantine Empire, which eventually evolved into the modern trope. The falcon was also the symbol of Horus, one of the main Egyptian gods
. The trope also developed separately in other cultures, such as the Aztec and the indigenous people from the Pacific Northwest in North America. Nowadays they're used as symbols in India, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Armenia, Germany and of course America
Non-symbolic invocations of this trope may rate as Somewhere an Ornithologist Is Crying
, as when ordinary eagles are depicted carrying off infants
in older works. (See Kidnapping Bird Of Prey
) There's also a tendency to depict the most powerful Big Badass Bird of Prey
in a given work as male, despite female raptors having been known to be substantially larger than their mates for centuries.
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- A recent whiskey commercial features a gigantic hawk that carries off a woman from her village, then returns twice for barrels of booze.
Anime and Manga
- Washio, the eagle homunculus from Busou Renkin.
- In Naruto after learning the truth about Itachi, Sasuke changes his team name from "Hebi" (Snake) to "Taka" (Hawk). He also somehow gains the ability to summon hawks.
- Pell and Marco from One Piece.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. All 5 members of the team represent a different type of bird.
- In Yaiba, Kotaro Fuuma's true form is that of a Hawk-Man. Yaiba almost got killed by him.
- Vicious from Cowboy Bebop has a giant black bird that likes to rest on his shoulder untill it exploded in the final episode because Vicious fed it explosives to help him escape the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate.
- The Gliders' giant hawks in ElfQuest definitely qualify, despite being taxonomically suspect.
- Judges in Judge Dredd have a massive eagle for one shoulder pad, and eagles are a prominent symbol in all parts of the Judge System. Carlos Ezquerra says he chose the eagle because it was heavily associated with both American freedom and fascist Spain and Nazi Germany; thus, it serves as a reminder of how something good can be perverted into evil by good intentions.
- There was a giant vulture in Iron Man The Rapture that is in Starkworld that kept on disemboweling Tony Stark much like Prometheus.
- Villain Skroa from Les Légendaires is an Evil Sorcerer from a bird-like Demon species that look like anthropomorphic birds of prey.
- Urthblood, the warlord and titular character from The Urthblood Saga, employs several of these as personal fighters, spies and messengers. Wearing armour, no less.
- Parvarotti, Blain'se Dragon Hawk in Solar Winds instils fear in all who dare come near—except for Blaine, who treats him like one of his best friends. Parvarotti is a messenger hawk and is fiercely protective of Blaine.
- The griffins in Ace Combat Equestria Chronicles, naturally.
- A Growing Affection has the Shadow Roc, a giant demon hawk, and Iruka falcon summoning contract.
- The three falcons Iruka summons over the course of the story are all named after fighter planes.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The Nativity Story uses a hawk to symbolize the Holy Spirit. Quite a step up from the usual dove.
- Our Man Flint. The Galaxy organization has an anti-American eagle guarding its headquarters: it's trained to detect and attack Americans. After Flint destroys the Island Base, the last scene in the movie is the eagle soaring over it.
- In The Mummy Trilogy, Ardeth Bey has a messenger-falcon named Horus. We don't see it fight, but it seems badass.
- The Eagles in The Hobbit once again show why they are quite a powerful force to be reckoned with when they easily administered a Curb-Stomp Battle to the orcs and wargs while rescuing Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves.
- Quite a few Animal Mecha from Super Sentai/Power Rangers. Notably Choujin Sentai Jetman uses aircraft mecha modeled after birds.
- Both the Romulans and Klingons in Star Trek have warships referred to as Birds of Prey. The Klingon one is pretty small but the Romulan one is massive and both are certainly badass. The Romulans are also associated with eagles, likely due to the parallels with the Roman Empire.
- Also, the Romulan insignia is a really badass looking Bird◊ of◊ Prey◊.
- When Tsuburaya Productions wants to torment their flagship character, they create bird monsters. Some of the most vicious were the Guts Aliens from Ultra Seven.
- Sharak in Beastmaster: The Series, who is extra-Badass because he's also immortal.
- In the second season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the crew was joined by an eagle-headed Badass, named Hawk. Originally out for Revenge, Hawk is definately a Big Badass Bird of Prey who pilots a starfighter which is also a Big Badass Bird of Prey. Even after Hawk and Buck become Fire-Forged Friends and Hawk joins the regular cast as a Magnificent Bastard, He's still a Big Badass Bird of Prey.
- The Hellion on the cover of Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance◊.
- Recurring theme on the album covers of Primal Fear.
- Europe's second album cover.
- Eluveitie, a folk metal band, has lots of songs about the historic struggles between the Gauls and the Roman empire. Eagles are sometimes used to represent the Roman enemy, a rare antagonistic case.
Mythology and Religion
- The giant bird Roc from Sinbad the Sailor.
- The Ramayana has two vultures that otherwise fit this role.
- The Ziz of Jewish mythology.
- In Revelation God is said to be surrounded by four, winged creatures covered with eyes constantly praising him. One of them is an eagle, and in some versions of The Bible it replaces an angel congratulating God for sending a plague.
- In The Kalevala, Väinämöinen is rescued from sea by Kokko the Giant Eagle.
- Louhi, the Mistress of Pohjola, transforms herself into one when chasing the Kalevans who have stolen the Sampo.
- Turul is a Saker Falcon in Hungarian Mythology, perched on the top of the World Tree. Statues of it can be found all over Hungary, with the largest having the wingspan of 15 meters.
- The Phoenix
- The Thunderbird
- The Greek play Agamemnon makes use of quite a bit of bird symbolism.
- In Shadow of the Colossus there is a hawk that seems to pop in and follow the protagonist from time to time. Apparently you can jump and hang from him in flight if you time it right.
- Several Pokémon. They have a specific trainer class who uses them also.
- To be specific, there is Pidgey, Pidgeotto and Pidgeot, Spearow and Fearow, Hoothoot and Noctowl, Skarmory, Taillow and Swellow (based off swallows but with bird of prey aspects), Starly, Staravia and Staraptor, and probably more.
- How about the Legendary birds?
- Skarmory, who is a Chrome Champion.
- And now Braviary, which looks to be an actual eagle and Mandibuzz. LOOK AT THE BONES!
- In Kirby, there's Dynablade. A big bird that fights you fiercely, and she's a mom, too.
- There's also Falco and Captain Falcon from Nintendo.
- Mordecai's special skill in Borderlands is to summon his pet hawk, Bloodwing. Properly upgraded, Bloodwing is more dangerous while out than the player will ever be.
- Storm Eagle, Storm Owl, Blaze Heatnix, Wind Crowrang, and Mach Jentler from Mega Man X.
- Clockwerk, the Big Bad of first two Sly Cooper games.
- Nina has to fight one in Breath of Fire IV when she's shrunken down by the fairies.
- The Laguz of the Hawk tribe in Fire Emblem Tellius can transform into these, and are substantially larger then run of the mill birds of prey when they do.
- There's a reason why the Global Defense Initiative uses a swooping hawk as their emblem.
- The Aska summon in Tales of Phantasia.
- The Mighty Eagle of Angry Birds, which will One-Hit Kill every pig in the level. And most of the level architecture, as well.
- Similar is the Space Eagle of Angry Birds Space, which doesn't One-Hit Kill but can be used like a guided missile that wipes out a large part of the level. It's delivered in a package, then comes rocketing out of the black hole, wiping out everything in a certain radius.
- Dwarf Fortress features the giant eagle, which is tough enough to take down a group of recruits by itself. They are very annoying when they run wild, but if the elves bring some tamed ones with their caravans, they are just as useful. Rocs are even worse.
- The people of Skyloft in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword commute using the help of large, eagle-like birds called Loftwings.
- Hunters in World of Warcraft can tame eagles as pets. They come with the racial ability Snatch, which damages and disarms targets for six seconds, very handy for fighting humanoids and other weapon-wielding foes, and even some raid bosses.
- Rocs, Thunderbirds and Phoenixes all show up in Heroes of Might and Magic, although the exact combination and just how badass they are depends on the game.
- The Eaglider and Halbird dream eaters in Kingdom Hearts 3 D. Both are somehow able to fire swarms of homing projectiles from their wings (Missiles and lasers respectively) and the former also can drop bombs and use its ordinary looking feet as vulcan cannons. Both also have a habit of striking poses whenever they hit something successfully, emitting audible sparkles to draw attention to it.
- Skye, Ryudo's talking falcon companion from Grandia II.
- In Dragon Age II, birds of prey are a prevalent feature of Kirkwall architecture and many nobles favour them in their coat of arms. For instance, the Viscount uses a Falcon as his symbol, while the Amell family crest is adorned with two Eagles, later adopted by their scion, Hawke.
- The Fire Nation uses hawks as messenger birds.
- In Brother Bear, the main character's dead brother takes the form of a bald eagle as a spirit guide.
- The Hun leader's falcon in Mulan.
- Marahute in The Rescuers Down Under.
- A few Transformers have bird of prey alt modes. More prevalent in Beast Wars, for obvious reasons.
- BW Silverbolt stands out as being equal parts eagle and wolf.
- Buzzy, Dizzy, Ziggy, and Flaps from The Jungle Book, who are a quartet of vultures resembling The Beatles who help Mowgli fight Shere Khan at the end of the film.
- In the Thundercats 2011 episode "The Forest of Magi Oar" Giant Flyer Viragor is atypically depicted as an ignoble, territorial monster, haunting the titular forest, antagonizing travellers and the forest's protectors the Wood Forgers. Later it's revealed that he is the forests' ancient protector, while the wood forgers are opportunistic industrialists.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash is presented with the possibility of having a falcon or an eagle as her pet, and indeed both make it to the final competition - a race through Ghastly Gorge. The falcon wins the race, but Rainbow's Exact Words dictated that whichever one crossed the finish line WITH HER would become her pet. Since Tank the tortoise was the only one to stop and help her after she was trapped by an avalanche, the falcon concedes defeat.
- The Wakumi in What's New, Scooby Doo?
- The eagle was used as a national symbol by Rome, countries that claimed to be its heirs (Russia, the Holy Roman Empire, Turkey, the United States), and countries which inherited the symbolism from them in turn (Austria, Prussia, Germany)
- The only European Empire not to use the eagle was Great Britain, which picked the King of Beasts instead.
- Played with by Hungary, pretty much every country that's invaded or otherwise subjugated them have used eagles as their symbol; in response Hungary uses a falcon.
- Mexico's eagle is actually of Aztec origin, hence it's preying on a snake over a cactus. It had a rather Romanesque pose during the time of the II Empire (1864-1867) and Porfirio Diaz's dictatorship (1881-1917), though.
- Folklore gives a different origin for Poland's white eagle.
- All of this imperial symbolism probably inspired the designers of Warhammer 40000 to pick the double-headed eagle for the Imperium of Man.
- The oldest archeological artefact of the double-headed eagle is Sumerian, circa 20th century BC. The double-headed eagle was a symbol of the The Byzantine Empire, with one head looking East (Constantinople) and one West (Rome). As symbol for the Holy Roman Empire, it represented Church and State. The Emperor of Mankind is known to be from central Anatolia (currently Turkey).
- Egypt's flag also has an eagle on it.
- Hawker Aircraft made a number of Cool Planes during World War II including the Hurricane which was the Royal Air Force's meat and potatoes and the Typhoon which was terrifying at close support and interdiction.
- Naturally, a lot of Cool Plane models are themselves named after this trope, fighters in particular.
- Subverted by the Swedish Air Force, who named their two major Cool Planes between the late 50s and late 80s "Draken" and "Viggen" - which means either "Dragon" and "Lightning bolt", or "(male) Mallard" and "Tufted duck". And considering they semi-officially designated the predecessor of "Draken" "The Flying Barrel".
- Hunting with trained falcons was once the favorite sport of nobility.
- Though, ironically, most hunting falcons are actually relatively small.
- Kazakhs at least hunt with eagles which they catch themselves climbing in the mountains.
- Haast's Eagle, the biggest eagle ever to have existed.
- The entire Phoroshacidae, or "terror bird", family, consists of flightless big badass birds of prey.
- Gastornis was a relative of the crane, and was a big badass bird of prey. Possibly.
- The largest vulture ever Argentavis magnificens. It had a wingspan of 7 meters (23 feet for you non-metric people!), and may have been the inspiration for the myth of the thunderbird. Like all vultures, it was a scavenger, not an active hunter, but it's still not a creature most people would want to run into in a dark alley or anywhere else.
- Argentavis was part of a big family of big badass birds of prey called the "teratorns". Roughly translated, this means "scary birds".
- Even today's condors, much smaller than A. magnificens, are pretty formidable critters.
- Several sports teams such as the Atlanta Hawks (basketball), the Baltimore Orioles, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Toronto Blue Jays (all baseball), the Philadelphia Eagles, the Baltimore Ravens, the Atlanta Falcons, the Seattle Seahawks, the Arizona Cardinals (all football), and the Atlanta Thrashers (now knows as the Winnipeg Jets) (hockey).
- The Philippine Eagle, one of the largest birds of prey in South East Asia and one of the national symbols of the country (possibly influenced by the USA.
- The Golden Eagle will attack Grizzly Bears, as demonstrated here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YWaosOaURfU
- Golden Eagles are so badass, that the Kazakhs and the Kyrgyz regularly use them to hunt wolves!
- The Secretary Bird, despite the name looks like an vulture on stilts. They kill snakes and other animals by [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHDZTd9S7bA beating them to death
- Deinonychosaurs, being predatory and extremely bird-like (to the point where we would almost certainly consider them birds were we to observe them in life), qualify. The largest known were about the size of a grizzly bear and there's reason to think even smaller ones were tenacious hunters. Many may have killed their prey the way modern birds of prey do. On top of that, the term "raptor" is often used for these dinosaurs in pop culture.
- The Cassowary is a large, omnivorous, flightless bird, native to Australia very similar to an Ostrich, but much more agressive, and known to kill humans, and dingos. It's kick alone has enough force to break bones, add to this the fact that this kick comes with a large killing claw similar to Raptor dinosaurs, and the fact that Cassowary fathers (it's actually the males who care for the eggs and chicks) are as agressivly protective as Mother bears, and the fact that, also like bears, the Cassowary's omnivorous diet means that they are notorious for their stealing from human garbage, it's no wonder they earned their reputations as the world's most dangerous bird. And just why does a bird that lives mostly on fruit, and doesn't hunt any animal bigger than rats need to be so agressive? It's so deadly because of how fierce territoral battles are within its own species.
- Australia also has the wedge-tailed eagle, which is quite capable of picking up a lamb and flying away with it. The largest verified wingspan of a wedge-tailed eagle is 284cm, or in Imperial measurements, nearly nine and a half feet, and unverified reports of ten or eleven foot wingspans are not unheard of.