Noble Bird Of Prey

"While I fly, follow me in the shadow of my wings."
Jatayu, The Ramayana

Few animals radiate the strength and majesty of birds of prey. They're fast, powerful and look intense, netting them a spot right at the top of both the food chain and the minds of people worldwide. From Roman symbols through medieval heraldry right to the forefront of American cultural symbols, they have almost always had a proud and noble reputation. Whether a character in their own right or a symbol of the strength of another, raptors are not to be sneered at.

Though always considered powerful and usually majestic, certain birds have their own special attributes as well. Eagles, for instance, are associated with power, royalty and empire while hawks represent aggression even in the English language itself. Of course, being symbols of pride and power is not always a positive thing: They can also be portrayed as cruel or merciless.

If they appear in a Funny Animals setting you can expect them to be among the most Badass members of the cast and with a fearsome reputation. In a world with only humans, they may appear with the real world usage of heraldry or perhaps utilized by a Warrior Prince or The Hunter.

See Feathered Fiend for more atrocious avians and Giant Flyer for enormous birds.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • There is an exclusively female superhero group in the DCU named the Birds of Prey
  • Judge Dredd: Judges 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.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Fiction 
  • The Urthblood Saga: Urthblood, the warlord and titular character, employs several of these as personal fighters, spies and messengers.
  • 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.
  • In The Lion King Adventures, the Hermit of Hekima is a giant golden eagle with telepathic abilities and insight into the future. He acts as a guide for Simba, Nala and Haiba in Series Five.
  • In A Growing Affection, Iruka has a hawk summoning contract. And his familiars are all named after fighter jets.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Animorphs use these morphs as their primary means of travel. Then of course there is Tobias who is now a red-tailed hawk in his natural form.
    • Further played with in the David Trilogy, when new Sixth Ranger David chooses a golden eagle as his first morph, a bird easily larger and more dangerous than any other the kids have morphed so far.
  • Mercedes Lackey is very fond of birds in general, but particularly raptors. She even has a whole culture of people with avian Bond Creatures called the Hawkbrothers, although some of them have corvids or something more exotic.
  • Discworld novel Lords and Ladies: Lady Jane takes down one of The Fair Folk. (The elf in question ordered her to kill Hodgesaargh, the falconer, without realising just how vicious and badly trained she was. She immediately went for the elf's throat.)
    Hodgesaargh: She's does that to me too. Sorry about that. She's very intelligent...
  • The Prophecy of the Stones has a group of them that guard Oonagh's cave, and in addition to being big scary birds they feed on fear.
  • In Harry Potter: Ravenclaw is a founder of Hogwarts and valued wisdom above all things. Her signature animal is an eagle.
  • Ice Falcon by Rita Ritchie, about a falconer's apprentice who travels to Iceland to capture a white gyrfalcon and ransom his father with it.
  • The blue hawk in Peter Dickinson's novel The Blue Hawk. The the novel describes the process of taming and training a large bird of prey with realism.
  • In A Song Of Ice and Fire, the falcon is the sigil of the House of Arryn and said house was founded by "the Falcon Knight". Allegedly, he could fly.
  • In Tolkien's Legendarium, the eagles are the messengers of Manwe. Being possibly Maiar would make them immortal, and at least one of them (Gwaihir) was listed as being alive in both the First and Third Ages, thousands of years apart.
    • At the end of The Hobbit, the Lord of the Eagles (who may or may not be Gwaihir) was described as being given a crown to wear.
  • Henrik Wergeland Inverted this in his poem follow the call, as the eagle also is the symbol of a poet:
    Royal Eagle, chained and bound
    by the leg, with broken wing,
    who, for over twenty years -
    since the shot that crippled him
    has served as fettered guard
    in a poor smallholder`s yard.
    Despite his wounded limb he has
    less of sadness than the poet
    Born into a wilderness
    unheeding as this dreary land...

  • Ythrians in Technic History are not raptors biologically and are not even avian. But they are intelligent predators capable of flight and they have the personality attributed to raptors and a culture appropriate to it.

    Live Action TV 

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Ramayana has two vultures that otherwise fit this role.

  • 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.

  • Earlier releases of Stern Pinball's Harley Davidson games feature numerous eagles on the backglass and playfield. The "3rd Edition" replaces them all with a single gold eagle right above the flippers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • High Elves and Wood Elves in Warhammer Fantasy have access to Giant Eagles, both as their own unit and as mounts for their Lords and Heroes. They later get an upgrade to flying chariot pulled by a giant eagle.
  • BattleTech has Clan Jade Falcon, one of the most aggressive Clans in the Inner Sphere, they later have bird themed mechs like the Jade Hawk.

  • The Greek play Agamemnon makes use of quite a bit of bird symbolism.

    Video Game 
  • Command & Conquer: There's a reason why the Global Defense Initiative uses a swooping hawk as their emblem: power, authority, majesty.
  • World of Warcraft
    • Hunters 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.
    • Druids have the ability to turn into Storm Crows (except Trolls, who turn into bats instead).
  • 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.


    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Fire Nation uses hawks as messenger birds. Sokka buys one because he thinks it makes him look impressive.
  • In Brother Bear, Sitka's totem is the Eagle of Guidance. He later takes the form of a bald eagle as a spirit guide.
  • A few Transformers have bird of prey alt modes. It's more prevalent in Beast Wars, for obvious reasons. Silverbolt stands out as being equal parts eagle and wolf.
  • 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 looking for the coolest pet, i.e. the best, most majestic, most awesome etc. She 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.

    Real Life 
  • The eagle was used as a national symbol by Rome, countries that claimed to be its heirs (Russia, the Holy Roman Empire, Turkey, Napoleonic France, the United States), and countries which inherited the symbolism from them in turn (Austria, Prussia, Germany). Italy too is in this number, as its claim of being the heir of Rome is better than most by virtue of being Rome's heartland. However, the symbol is forgotten due the abuse made by the Fascist regime.
  • Played with by Hungary, 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 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).
  • The oldest archeological artefact of the double-headed eagle is Sumerian, circa 20th century BC. The double-headed eagle was a symbol of 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).
  • A lot of Cool Plane models are themselves named after this trope, fighters in particular. 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.
    • Rolls-Royce, who had been making piston aircraft engines since World War I, named all of their engine types after birds of prey by custom. The engine powering the Hurricane was the Merlin (not the wizard, but a type of falcon).
  • Hunting with trained falcons was once the favorite sport of nobility.
    • In Mongolia, there's a tradition of hunting with trained Golden Eagles.
  • Several sports teams such as the Atlanta Hawks (basketball), the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons, the Seattle Seahawks (all football), and the Atlanta Thrashers (now knows as the Winnipeg Jets) (hockey).
  • This was why the bald eagle was selected to be the USA's national bird; people believed that the eagle's fierce expression was a representation of power and nobility.

Alternative Title(s):

Big Badass Bird Of Prey