Great Eagle
Great Eagle LOTR
Others Eagles of Manwë
Body type Raptor
Sentience Sentient
Sapience Sapient
Place of origin Middle Earth
Locomotion Bipedal
Powered flight
Status Data Deficient
Behind the Scenes
Universe Middle Earth
Created by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Great Eagles were immense birds that served as messengers of Manwë. They're notably sapient and capable of speech, and often helped Men, Elves and Wizards in the quests to defeat evil. They were "devised" by Manwë Súlimo, King of the Valar, and were often called the Eagles of Manwë.

In combatEdit

An attack by the Great Eagles must have been terrifying for the armies that were being attacked. The Eagles could attack in two ways. They could attack using their talons and beak to stab through armour, but probably the most common way for the Eagles to fight was to simply pick up as many foes as possible, carry them to a great height, and drop them onto rocks or other hard objects so that they were killed by the fall.

Portrayal in adaptionsEdit

In Peter Jackson's film trilogies (those of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), the eagles are much smaller than depicted in the book. They have been noted to being around 6m (20ft) tall, and have a wingspan of no more than 23m (75ft). Also, in the film adaptation, unlike in the books, the birds are less sapient and not capable of speech.


Tolkien's painting of an eagle on a crag appears in some editions of The Hobbit. According to Christopher Tolkien, the author based this picture on a painting by Archibald Thorburn of an immature Golden Eagle, which Christopher found for him in The Birds of the British Isles by T. A. Coward. However, Tolkien's use of this model does not necessarily mean that his birds were ordinary Golden Eagles. In some of his texts Tolkien speculated that these great Eagles were actually Maiar in bird-shape, as he felt it unlikely Ilúvatar would grant feär to animals. If this was true, then Roäc the Raven and the Thrush, who appear in The Hobbit, might also be Maiar or other spirits in animal form (and possibly even Beorn, who sometimes takes the form of a bear).

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