- A-Z Animals
Eagles are large, predatory birds that belong to the family Accipitridae and are divided into several genera, which do not have a striking resemblance to each other. These birds are distinguished by their fully feathered head, broad beak, strong feet, and curved talons. Eagles have been found all around the world, except Antarctica.
There are more than 70 eagle species that are informally classified into four groups, with the fish eagles, harpy eagles, and booted eagles being categorized under the subfamily Buteoninae and the snake eagles placed under the subfamily Circaetinae. Some of the commonly found eagle species are listed below:
Size: Their size varies considerably, ranging from the smallest South Nicobar serpent eagle of length 16 in (40 cm) to the largest Harpy eagle and Philippine eagle measuring between 3 ft 2.5 in – 3 ft 3 in (98-100 cm).
Weight: Different eagle species have different weights. The South Nicobar serpent eagle, for example, weighs only 0.99 lb (450 g) while the Steller’s sea eagle is the heaviest, weighing 15 lb (6.7 kg).
Wingspan: These birds are noted for having the largest wingspans among avian predators, with the white-tailed eagle and Steller’s sea eagle having median wingspans of 7 ft 2 in (218.5 cm) and 7 ft (212.5 cm) respectively.
Color: Eagles typically have dark-colored, brown, or blackish feathers.
Eyes: The size of their eyes is similar to that of humans, and their eyesight is roughly 4-8 times stronger as compared to the average human.
Beak: Like all predatory birds, eagles have large, hooked beaks for tearing flesh and killing their prey.
Talons: They possess curved, powerful claws that they use for catching prey.
The places where most of the 60 eagle species are found include Europe, Africa, and Asia. Only 14 species live outside these areas, three in Australia, nine in South and Central America, and two in North America.
Most eagle species prefer building their nests on high cliffs and in tall trees near water bodies like streams, lakes, and rivers. Since eagles are sensitive to disturbances caused by human activity, they require extensive, undisturbed forested lands for nesting.
In the wild, eagles may live for about 14-30 years, but in captivity, they have lifespans at over 40 years. The oldest in the wild was a banded Bald eagle that died at 38 years of age in 2015 after being hit by a car.
Eagles are apex avian predators and prey on a variety of birds, fish, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and crabs. When food is scarce, these carnivores take advantage of decaying or dead flesh. Bald eagles like eating fish while golden eagles primarily eat marmots, ground squirrels, rabbits, bighorn sheep, and young pronghorn antelope.
The breeding process starts with building a nest in which both the male and female take part. Nesting begins one to three months before the mating season. If they have successfully produced and protected their young at the nest, they will use that same nest every year.
They engage in a courtship display that involves swooping flight, circling, and cartwheeling in the air, followed by copulation. Mating occurs in the nest or on a branch with the male eagle mounting the female. The process by which both the male and female cloaca touch and the sperm is transferred is called the cloacal kiss.
Eagles are monogamous, meaning a pair remains together for life. The female usually lays a clutch of 1-3 eggs about 5-10 days after copulation. Both the male and female eagles incubate their eggs for about 35-45 days, after which the eggs hatch in the order laid.
After hatching, the chicks are nearly blind, wet, and exhausted. They have dark brown eyes that open after several hours.
1. What is a baby eagle called?
2. What predators may eat eagles?
Eagles are apex predators and are not preyed upon by any other animals. However, great horned owls, ravens, and raccoons may attack eagle nests and feed on their eggs or nestlings.
3. Do eagles migrate?
Yes. During fall and winter months, eagles migrate to warmer locations, usually near dams, large rivers, and the coast. Their flight pattern is dependent mainly on the wind current.
4. How far can an eagle see?
Because of their keen eyesight, eagles can spot their prey (like a rabbit) roughly 3.2 km away.
5. How high can an eagle fly?
Eagles can soar up to a height of more than 10,000 ft and take long glides to cover vast distances.
6. What is a group of eagles called?
7. How fast can an eagle fly?
Eagles can fly at 30 mph and achieve faster speeds when diving after prey. Golden eagles can dive at 150 mph, while bald eagles have a diving speed of 100 mph.
8. How much weight can an eagle carry?
Eagles can carry prey heavier than themselves. Crowned and golden eagles have killed a 66 lb ungulate while a martial eagle has killed a duiker weighing 82 lb.