name = Eagle

image_width = 250px
image_caption = Bald Eagle
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Falconiformes
familia = Accipitridae
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision = Several, see text.

Eagles are large birds of prey which are members of the bird order Falconiformes and family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other genetically. Most of the more than 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa. [del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Sargatal, J. (editors). (1994). Handbook of the Birds of the World Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 8487334156] Outside this area, just two species (the Bald and Golden Eagles) can be found in the USA and Canada, a few more in Central and South America, and three in Australia.

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. [cite journal
last = Shlaer
first = Robert
date = 1972-05-26
title = An Eagle's Eye: Quality of the Retinal Image
journal = Science
volume = 176
issue = 4037
pages = 920–922
publisher =
doi = 10.1126/science.176.4037.920
url = http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/176/4037/920?ck=nck
accessdate = 2007-11-20
pmid = 5033635
] 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).

Major new research into eagle taxonomy suggests that the important genera "Aquila" and "Hieraaetus" are not composed of nearest relatives, and it is likely that a reclassification of these genera will soon take place, with some species being moved to "Lophaetus" or "Ictinaetus". [cite journal |last=Lerner |first=H. R. L. |coauthors=D. P. Mindell |year=2005 |title=Phylogeny of eagles, Old World vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA |journal=Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution |issue=37 |pages=327–346 |doi=10.1016/j.ympev.2005.04.010 |volume=37 ]

*Bonelli's Eagle, the Booted Eagle and the Little Eagle have been moved from "Hieraaetus" to "Aquila".
*Either the Greater Spotted Eagle and Lesser Spotted Eagle should move from "Aquila" to join the Long-crested Eagle in "Lophaetus", or, perhaps better, all three of these species should move to "Ictinaetus" with the Black Eagle.
*The Steppe Eagle and Tawny Eagle, once thought to be conspecific, are not even each other's nearest relatives.


* Subfamily Buteoninae - hawks (buzzards), true eagles and sea-eagles
**Genus "Geranoaetus"
*** Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, "Geranoaetus melanoleucus"
**Genus "Harpyhaliaetus"
*** Crowned Solitary Eagle, "Harpyhaliaetus coronatus"
*** Solitary Eagle, "H. solitarius"
**Genus "Morphnus"
*** Crested Eagle, "Morphnus guianensis"
**Genus "Harpia"
*** Harpy Eagle, "Harpia harpyja"
**Genus "Pithecophaga"
*** Philippine Eagle, "Pithecophaga jefferyi"
**Genus "Harpyopsis"
*** New Guinea Eagle, "Harpyopsis novaeguineae"
**Genus "Oroaetus"
*** Black-and-chestnut Eagle, "Oroaetus isidori"
**Genus "Spizaetus"
*** Cassin's Hawk-eagle, "Spizaetus africanus"
*** Changeable Hawk-eagle, "S. cirrhatus"
*** Mountain Hawk-eagle, "S. nipalensis"
*** Blyth's Hawk-eagle, "S. alboniger"
*** Javan Hawk-eagle, "S. bartelsi"
*** Sulawesi Hawk-eagle, "S. lanceolatus"
*** Philippine Hawk-eagle, "S. philippensis"
*** Wallace's Hawk-eagle, "S. nanus"
*** Black Hawk-eagle, "S. tyrannus"
*** Ornate Hawk-eagle, "S. ornatus"
*** Black-and-white Hawk-eagle, "S. melanoleucus"
**Genus "Lophaetus"
*** Long-crested Eagle, "Lophaetus occipitalis" - possibly belongs in "Ictinaetus"
**Genus "Stephanoaetus"
*** Crowned Hawk-eagle, "Stephanoaetus coronatus"
**Genus "Polemaetus"
*** Martial Eagle, "Polemaetus bellicosus"
**Genus "Hieraaetus"
*** Ayres' Hawk-eagle, "Hieraaetus ayresii"
*** African Hawk Eagle, "H. spilogaster"
*** New Guinea Hawk-eagle, "H. weiskei"
**Genus "Harpagornis" (extinct)
*** Haast's Eagle, "Harpagornis moorei" - possibly belongs in either "Hieraaetus" or "Aquila" [cite journal |last=Bunce |first=M. |coauthors=et al |year=2005 |title=Ancient DNA Provides New Insights into the Evolutionary History of New Zealand's Extinct Giant Eagle |journal=PLoS Biol |volume=3 |issue=1 |doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0030009 |url=http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.0030009 |accessdate=2006-12-27 | pages = e9]
**Genus "Aquila"
*** Bonelli's Eagle, "Aquila fasciata" - formerly "Hieraaetus fasciatus"
*** Booted Eagle, "A. pennata" - formerly "Hieraaetus pennatus"
*** Little Eagle, "A. morphnoides"
*** Golden Eagle, "A. chrysaetos"
*** Eastern Imperial Eagle, "A. heliaca"
*** Rufous-bellied Eagle, "A. kienerii"
*** Spanish Imperial Eagle "A. adalberti"
*** Steppe Eagle, "A. nipalensis"
*** Tawny Eagle, "A. rapax"
*** Greater Spotted Eagle, "A. clanga" - to be moved to "Lophaetus" or "Ictinaetus"
*** Lesser Spotted Eagle, "A. pomarina" - to be moved to "Lophaetus" or "Ictinaetus"
*** Indian Spotted Eagle, "A. hastata" - to be moved to "Lophaetus" or "Ictinaetus"
*** Verreaux's Eagle, "A. verreauxii"
*** Gurney's Eagle, "A. gurneyi"
*** Wahlberg's Eagle, "A. wahlbergi"
*** Wedge-tailed Eagle, "A. audax"
**Genus "Ictinaetus"
*** Black Eagle, "Ictinaetus malayensis"
**Genus "Haliaeetus"
*** White-tailed Eagle, "Haliaeetus albicilla"
*** Bald Eagle, "H. leucocephalus"
*** Steller's Sea-eagle, "H. pelagicus"
*** African Fish-eagle, "H. vocifer"
*** White-bellied Sea-eagle, "H. leucogaster"
*** Sanford's Fish-eagle, "H. sanfordi"
*** Madagascar Fish-eagle, "H. vociferoides"
*** Pallas' Sea-eagle, "H. leucoryphus"
**Genus "Ichthyophaga"
*** Lesser Fish-eagle, "Ichthyophaga humilis"
*** Grey-headed Fish-eagle, "I. ichthyaetus"
* Subfamily Circaetinae: snake-eagles
**Genus "Terathopius"
*** Bateleur, "Terathopius ecaudatus"
**Genus "Circaetus"
*** Short-toed Eagle, "Circaetus gallicus"
*** Black-chested Snake-eagle, "C. pectoralis"
*** Brown Snake-eagle, "C. cinereus"
*** Fasciated Snake-eagle, "C. fasciolatus"
*** Banded Snake-eagle, "C. cinerascens"
**Genus "Spilornis"
*** Crested Serpent-eagle, "Spilornis cheela"
*** Nicobar Serpent-eagle, "S. minimus"
*** Mountain Serpent-eagle,"S. kinabaluensis"
*** Sulawesi Serpent-eagle, "S. rufipectus"
*** Philippine Serpent-eagle, "S. holospilus"
*** Andaman Serpent-eagle, "S. elgini"
**Genus "Eutriorchis"
*** Madagascar Serpent-eagle, "Eutriorchis astur"

Eagles in culture

The word

The modern English name of the bird is derived from the Latin term "aquila" by way of the French "Aigle". The Latin "aquila" may derive from the word "aquilus", meaning dark-colored, swarthy, or blackish, as a description of the eagle's plumage; or from "Aquilo", the Latin version of Greek "Boreas", or north wind.

Old English used the term "Earn", related to Scandinavia's "Ørn / Örn". The etymology of this word is related to Greek "ornis", literally meaning "bird". In this sense, the Eagle is "the Bird" with a capital B.

Eagles as national symbols

Eagles have been used by many nations as a national symbol.
*The coat of arms of Navarre/Basque Country Kingdom has a black eagle.
*The coat of arms of Albania has a black double-headed eagle.
*The coat of arms of Armenia has a gold eagle and lion.
*The coat of arms of Austria has a black eagle.
*The coat of arms of the Czech Republic integrates the symbols of Moravia and Silesia (both with female eagles in their emblems - red-and-white chequered and black respectively) on the coat of arms of the Czech Republic with Bohemia's lion.
*The coat of arms of Egypt is a golden eagle looking towards the viewer's left.
*The coat of arms of Germany has a black eagle.
*The coat of arms of Ghana has two golden eagles holding it.
*The coat of arms of Indonesia has an eagle-like garuda carrying a shield on its neck and a banner on its feet.
*The coat of arms of Iraq has the golden Eagle of Saladin
*The coat of arms of Jordan has a black eagle.
*The coat of arms of Mexico golden eagle perched upon a cactus devouring a snake.
*The coat of arms of Moldova consists of a stylized eagle holding a cross in its beak and a sceptre and a branch in its claws.
*The coat of arms of Montenegro represents the two-headed eagle in flight.
*The coat of arms of Nigeria has a red eagle on top.
*The Insignia of the Pakistan Air Force includes the Peregrine Falcon State Military national bird.
*The coat of arms of Panama has a harpy eagle
*The coat of arms of the Philippines has the bald eagle of the United States.
*The coat of arms of Poland has a white eagle with a golden beak and talons wearing a golden crown.
*The coat of arms of Romania has a golden aquila holding a cross in its beak and a mace and a sword in its claws.
*The coat of arms of Russia has a double-headed eagle.
*The coat of arms of Serbia has a white bicephalic eagle of the House of Nemanjić.
*The coat of arms of Syria formerly had the eagle of Saladin.
*The Great Seal of the United States has a bald eagle.
*The coat of arms of Yemen depicts a golden eagle with a scroll between its claws.
*The coat of arms of Nigeria has a red eagle on top.
* Hellenistic Egypt. The Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt used it as their seal.
* First French Empire. Napoleon Bonaparte used the Roman Golden Eagle as the symbol of his new French empire.
* Persian Empire. The symbol of Persian Army was an Eagle
* Rome. The Romans used it on the standards of their armies. From this derives:
** The late Byzantine Empire chose a two-headed golden eagle as its symbol. It is popularly that one head symbolised ancient Rome, and the other head symbolised "new Rome" at Constantinople. From this derives:
*** Albania. The two-headed eagle is the emblem of "Shqipëria" or "Land of the Eagles", which is known in English as Albania (see The Tale of the Eagle for the legendary origin of the name)
*** Russian Empire. After the fall of Constantinople, the Russian Empire took the two-headed eagle as its own symbol.
** Charlemagne and Holy Roman Empire. After his crowning as the new Roman Emperor, Charlemagne adopted the ancient Roman eagle as his own symbol. The Holy Roman Empire born of his kingdom took the eagle, but the Habsburgs replaced the golden eagle by an imperial eagle. From this derives:
*** Austria. The Austrian Empire had a two-headed eagle as its symbol. After the abolition of Austria-Hungary, Austria took as its symbol a one-headed eagle in the modern coat of arms of Austria.
*** Germany and Prussia. Prussia, and later Germany have used a black eagle as their national symbol.
*** Spain. The Catholic monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand, used the eagle as a part of the royal shield representing Saint John the Evangelist. The eagle was again on the Spanish shield under the Francoist regime and the transition to Democracy (1939-1981).
*The Seljuk Turks and Ottoman Turks used a double-headed eagle as coats-of-arms.

The eagle is the symbol used to depict John the Apostle in some Christian churches, whose writing most clearly witnesses the divinity of Christ. In art, John, as the author of the Gospel, is sometimes depicted with an eagle. See Names of John.

The eagle is a sacred bird in some cultures and the feathers of the eagle are central to many religious and spiritual customs, especially amongst Native Americans in the United States and First Nations in Canada, as well as among many of the peoples of Meso-America. Some Native American peoples revere eagles as sacred religious objects and the feathers and parts of Bald and Golden Eagles are often compared to the Bible and crucifix. Eagle feathers are often used in various ceremonies and are used to honor noteworthy achievements and qualities such as exceptional leadership and bravery. In the cultures of the Northwest Coast, Eagle is also a supernatural being and also the ancestor and features in the heraldic crests of important clans known as totem poles.

The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped the animal and often depicted eagles in their art. [Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. "The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera." New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.]

Despite modern and historic Native American practices of giving eagle feathers to non-indigenous people and also members of other tribes who have been deemed worthy, current United States eagle feather law stipulates that only individuals of certifiable Native American ancestry enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are legally authorized to obtain eagle feathers for religious or spiritual [cite web| url = http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/law/le65.html
title = National Eagle Repository
accessdate = 2007-11-20
author = Office of Law Enforcement
work = Mountain-Prairie Region
publisher = United States Fish and Wildlife Service
] In Canada, poaching of eagle feathers for the booming U.S. market has sometimes resulted in the arrests of First Nations person for the crime. [cite news
first = Lena
last = Sin
title = Charges laid in eagle-poaching case
url = http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=7037508c-70c7-4c47-9d3e-713a118e6b66&k=55151
work = The Province
publisher = CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.
date = 2006-04-30
accessdate = 2007-11-20

Eagles as organizational symbols

* Munro. The image of a Golden Eagle is displayed the coat of arms of one of Scotland's most powerful clans, Munro. Gaelic "Rothach".
* Greece. The double-headed eagle is the emblem of the Greek sport clubs AEK (black eagle with open wings on yellow background) and PAOK (black eagle with closed wings on white background, as a symbol of mourning). It is a symbol of the clubs' origins, since both clubs were founded by Greeks who fled to Greece from Constantinople in 1922-23. The eagle itself is derived from the later version of the Roman Eagle, the Byzantine- or East Roman eagle.
* Italy. The Roman eagle is the symbol of the Roman sports club S.S. Lazio.
* Nigeria. The Nigeria Football Association, the nation's football (soccer) governing body, has a green eagle perched on a football as its organisational symbol and logo. The Nigerian national football team is known as the 'Super Eagles', the under-20 youth team as the 'Flying Eagles', and the under-17 national side as the 'Golden Eaglets'. They all have an eagle as their symbol.
* Portugal. Eagle is the symbol of the Portuguese football team Sport Lisboa e Benfica.
* Philippines . The Philippine Monkey-eating Eagle is the de jure National Bird of the country.
* Turkey. "Black Eagles" is used for the Turkish sports club Beşiktaş J.K..Turkish Seljukian double headed eagle emblem.
* México. Eagle is the mascot form Club America´s football club, since 1981.
* Persian Empire: the symbol of the Persian army was an eagle


*"Splitting headaches? Recent taxonomic changes affecting the British and Western Palaearctic lists" - Martin Collinson, British Birds vol 99 (June 2006), 306-323
*Bruguier, Leonard. [http://www.usd.edu/iais/veterans/feather.html A Warrior's Eagle Feather]

ee also

* Eagle (heraldry)

External links

* [http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?keyword=eagle Eagle photos] on Oriental Bird Images
* [http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/eagles/index.html PBS Nature: Eagles]
* [http://ibc.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/familia.phtml?idFamilia=30 Eagle videos on the Internet Bird Collection]
* [http://www.birdwatching-bliss.com/eagle-photos.html Eagle photos - including chick in nest]
* [http://www.ub.edu/aligaperdiguera Web of the Conservation Biology Team-Bonelli's Eagle, of the University of Barcelona]
* [http://www.eagleconservationalliance.org Eagle Conservation Alliance (ECA)]

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