Gwaihir, also known as Gwaihir the Windlord, was the greatest of the Great Eagles during the Third Age. He is best known for his deeds during the events of The Hobbit and the War of the Ring.


Gwaihir was descended from Thorondor, the greatest Eagle who ever lived. It was said that he and his brother Landroval aided Thorondor in rescuing Beren and Luthien from Angband.[1]

At some point in his life, Gandalf the Grey saved him from a poisoned arrow.

War of the RingEdit

In the summer of TA 3018, Gandalf asked Radagast the Brown to send word among his friends the birds to learn what they could of the Enemy's plans. The Great Eagles flew far and wide and gathered news of the Nazgûl and the mustering of Orcs and Wargs, and of the escape of Gollum from Mirkwood.

LOTR mega-eagle

Gwaihir rescues Gandalf from Orthanc.

Gwaihir went to Isengard to bring this news to Gandalf. In the early hours of September 18, he found Gandalf imprisoned by Saruman on the pinnacle of Orthanc. Gwaihir bore Gandalf away, and when the Wizard said that he needed a horse, Gwaihir set him down in the land of Rohan.

On February 17, 3019, Gwaihir was searching for Gandalf at the request of Galadriel when he found the Wizard atop the Silvertine. Gandalf had vanquished the Balrog in the Battle of the Peak, but the entrance to the Endless Stair had been blocked and he had been unable to escape from the mountaintop. Gwaihir once again bore Gandalf and he found his burden to be as light as a feather, for Gandalf's old life had been burned away and he had been reborn as Gandalf the White.

The Eagle brought Gandalf to Lothlórien and then at the Wizard's request he flew to seek news of the Fellowship. Aragorn and Legolas both saw him circling above the Emyn Muil. Gwaihir returned to Gandalf with the news that Merry and Pippin had been captured by Saruman's Uruk-hai.


Gwaihir against a fell beast.

Gwaihir and his brother Landroval led a great company of Eagles to the Battle of the Black Gate on March 25, 3019. They swooped in to attack the Winged Nazgûl, but the Nazgûl fled when Sauron summoned them to fly to Mount Doom where Frodo Baggins stood at the Cracks of Doom with the Ring. After the Ring was destroyed, Mount Doom erupted and Frodo and Sam were stranded on a hill amid flowing lava and falling ash. Gandalf asked Gwaihir to bear him a final time. Accompanied by Landroval and Meneldor, Gwaihir raced swiftly to Mount Doom and with his keen sight, he spotted the Hobbits through the fumes. The Eagles lifted Frodo and Sam and bore them away to safety.


The name Gwaihir comes from the Sindarin terms gwaew ("storm, wind") and hîr ("lord, master"), translating his name to "Wind-lord".[2]


Gwaihir had keen eyesight and was the swiftest of the Great Eagles. He was large and strong enough to carry a grown man. Gwaihir was intelligent and was capable of speech.

Appearances in the Books and FilmsEdit

In the booksEdit

In the filmsEdit

Other versions of the legendariumEdit

In earlier versions, his name was "Gwaewar" and he was Thorodor's (then leader of the Great Eagles) vassal. As Gwaewar, he was called the "Lord of the Wind".[3] He was also among the Eagles present to save Beren and Lúthien from Angband.[4]

In TA 2941, a character called "Lord of the Eagles" saved Thorin and Company from Wargs and Orcs. He later arrived in the Lonely Mountain and fought in the Battle of Five Armies.[5]

However, it is up for debate if Gwaihir was one of the eagles that saved Thorin and Company. In the whole Lord of the Rings Gwaihir carries Gandalf twice, and by the end of the book Gandalf says that Gwaihir had carried him twice;[6] this implies that Gwaihir never carried him before the timeframe of the book.

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

The Lord of the Rings film trilogyEdit

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gwaihir arrives at Isengard to rescue Gandalf. Later in The Return of the King, Gwaihir, Landroval, and the other Great Eagles arrive at the Battle of the Black Gate and attack the Nazgûl and their fell beasts. After the destruction of the One Ring, Gwaihir bears Gandalf and rescues Frodo and Sam from the rocks of Mount Doom.

In the Hobbit Trilogy, Gandalf uses a moth to call Gwaihir and the other Great Eagles to help them escape Azog and his hunters. Later, Radagast rides Gwaihir during the Battle of the Five Armies after seeking his aid along with an army of Great Eagles.

Video gamesEdit


It has been pointed out by several observers that the entire War of the Ring could have been over almost as quickly as it began if only Gandalf had requested that Gwaihir simply take the ring himself and delivered it to Mount Doom to have it destroyed. This is not a reasonable possibility. Mordor was extremely well guarded and Sauron had many spies. Attempting this would have resulted in the ring being delivered into the hands of Sauron. It has nothing to do with how high the Eagles could fly (their Aeries were on the Peaks of the Misty Mountains, which were between 5,000 and 8,000 meters in height), or their willingness to take anyone (as noted in Book 6, Chapter 4 of The Lord of the Rings: The field of Cormallen, when Gwaihir says to Gandalf in response to his request to rescue Frodo: 'I would bear you," answered Gwahir 'whither you wished even if you were made of stone.' (it should be pointed out that prior references to "tidings" vs "burdens" use the term "bear," which derives from the Old English Barun, meaning "to carry a heavy burden" - Gwaihir at that point was referring not to his unwillingness to carry Gandalf, or his inability to fly with him on his back), but simply due to the fact it is a bad idea. In addition to Mordor being well guarded. The One Ring must be dropped, not into Mount Doom itself, but into the Cracks of Doom. An Eagle flying towards Mordor could have tipped Sauron to this plan, where he would have ordered the Cracks of Doom sealed, and waited outside it on the slopes of Mount Doom with an army of a half million Orcs, tens of thousands of Easterlings, Haradrim, and Black Númenóreans, and nine Nazgûl awaiting the arrival of his precious ring.

It should also be understood that the mission to bring the One Ring to Mordor was appointed to Frodo by the Council of Elrond. Only Frodo alone should risk holding the Ring, this was due to Gandalf's perception that the hobbits tended to bear adversity and the temptation of the ring better than others. Gwaihir, had he been asked, and been assured of a reasonable plan that was not simply delivering the Ring back into the hands of Sauron, would have known it was his duty to do all he could to see it succeed (orc arrows or not - which, to be fair, are not such a threat, given that the Eagles could fly several miles high, even when burdened). The problem has nothing to do with it not being the responsibility of the Eagles, as fighting the Shadow is the responsibility of all of the forces sent by the Valar to be on guard against that same Shadow. The problem is that everyone would have know how incredibly pointless it would be to even attempt something so blindly foolish.

Translations around the WorldEdit

Foreign Language Translated name
Arabic جوير
Armenian Գվայհիր
Belarusian Cyrillic Гвайхіра
Chinese (Hong Kong) 關赫
French Gwaihir le Seigneur des Vents
Georgian გვაიჰირი
Gujarati ગ્વાઇહર
Hebrew גואיהיר
Japanese 霧ふり山脈
Kannada ಗ್ವೈಹೀರ್
Marathi ग्वाहीर
Nepalese ग्वाहिर
Persian گاواهیر
Russian Гваихир
Serbian Гваихир (Cyrillic) Gwaihir (Latin)
Sinhalese ග්වෛහිර්
Tajik Cyrillic Гwаиҳир
Tamil கிவைஹிர்
Telugu గ్వాఇహిర్
Ukrainian Cyrillic Гвайгір (Боривітер)
Urdu گوایہیر
Yiddish גוואַיהיר


  1. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 11: The War of the Jewels, Part One. The Grey Annals
  2. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 5: The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies"
  3. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 5: The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Two: "Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings"
  4. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 9: Sauron Defeated, Part One: The End of the Third Age, V: "The Field of Kormallen"
  5. The Hobbit, Chapter XVII: "The Clouds Burst"
  6. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter IV: "The Field of Cormallen"