British Columbia·Video

Eagle-versus-cat standoff in Vancouver park captured in photos, video

An East Vancouver man captured an unlikely animal encounter when an everyday house cat and a majestic bald eagle had a tense faceoff in a park.

Eagle expert says urban eagles are savvy around pets and meetings rarely come to blows

A bald eagle stares down an orange tabby creeping up on him near a mud puddle on a sports field.
An East Vancouver man captured an unusual scene on the weekend when a housecat and an eagle had a tense standoff. Thankfully, the unlikely opponents did not come to blows, which an expert says is good news for the bold tabby. (Peter Davidson)

An East Vancouver man captured an unlikely animal encounter when an everyday house cat and a majestic bald eagle had a tense faceoff in a park.

Peter Davidson was at the Cunningham Elementary playground, near Nanaimo Street and East 37th Avenue, with his two-year-old son Saturday. 

Also at the park was Bruno, his neighbour's friendly orange tabby.

Then it got a little more crowded: a bald eagle swooped down onto the field to drink from a puddle.

An orange tabby cat walks across an asphalt field to a bald eagle drinking at a mud puddle.
Bruno — perhaps unwisely — approaches the thirsty eagle. (Peter Davidson)

"I noticed the cat checking it out right away," Davidson said. "I thought they might actually get along."

Plenty of outdoor cats stalk birds but Bruno apparently has more ambition than most.

Photos and video show the feline cautiously approaching the raptor, back slightly arched and tail twitching.

WATCH | Peter Davidson's video of the showdown between Bruno and the eagle: 

Vancouver man captures tense encounter between cat and bald eagle

7 months ago
Duration 0:25
A perhaps too-bold tabby and a cautious bald eagle met in a park and sized each other up.

"The eagle sort of puffed itself up and did sort of a bluff charge or two," Davidson described.

Fortunately, no animals were harmed in the making of this tale. After a few tense minutes, Davidson said, the eagle flew off.

Bruno chased after it, he added, perhaps claiming victory in the dust-up over a mud puddle.

An orange cat stalks a bald eagle drinking from a puddle on a gravel sports field.
Davidson said the eagle puffed itself up and gave Bruno a 'bluff charge' when he came too close. (Peter Davidson)

'Wasn't exactly the smartest cat'

Bird expert Rob Hope with the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society says it's a good thing cats and eagles generally don't tangle very often.

"Wasn't exactly the smartest cat on the block," Hope said after viewing Davidson's photos and video.

Urban eagles, he said, are generally savvy about domesticated pets and steer clear.

But if the encounter did escalate, he said, perhaps by the cat pouncing, the eagle would either flee or use its talons to protect itself, which "would have been not very pretty."

"They can defend themselves against anything," Hope said. "We've even seen and had reports of a bald eagle defending itself against coyotes."

Eagles don't hunt pets as a rule, he added, but sometimes can mistake kittens or very small dogs as rodents.

He's glad the eagle decided to chicken out.

"If [the eagle] really wanted to do something in that situation, it definitely could've," Hope said. "It could've turned nasty, which nobody wants to see."


Liam Britten

Digital journalist

Liam Britten is an award-winning journalist for CBC Vancouver. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter: @liam_britten.