Eagle

EagleEagle — Eagles are large birds of prey which mainly inhabit Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just two species (the Bald and Golden Eagles) are found in North America north of Mexico, with a few more species in Central and South America, and three in Australia.

They are members of the bird order Falconiformes (or Accipitriformes, according to alternative classification schemes), family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other in any sort of way.

Eagles are differentiated from other birds of prey mainly by their larger size, more powerful build, and heavier head and bill. Even the smallest eagles, like the Booted Eagle (which is comparable in size to a Common Buzzard or Red-tailed Hawk), have relatively longer and more evenly broad wings, and more direct, faster flight. Most eagles are larger than any other raptors apart from the vultures.

Like all birds of prey, eagles have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, and powerful talons. They also have extremely keen eyesight to enable them to spot potential prey from a very long distance. This keen eyesight is primarily contributed by their extremely large pupils which cause minimal diffraction (scattering) of the incoming light.

In Britain before 1678, Eagle referred specifically to the Golden Eagle, the other native species, the White-tailed Eagle, being known as the Erne. The modern name “Golden Eagle” for Aquila chrysaetos was introduced by the naturalist John Ray.

Eagles build their nests, called eyries, in tall trees or on high cliffs. Many species lay two eggs, but the older, larger chick frequently kills its younger sibling once it has hatched.

Eagles are sometimes used in falconry. They appear prominently in myth and literature. In the Old World, such references are commonly to the Golden Eagle (or possibly closely related species found in warmer climates).

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