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Facts About Eagles

Updated on January 1, 2018
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

The Eagle

The majestic eagle. With its powerful and graceful wings, it can soar through the sky and cause traffic to stop on the side of a road for anything but modest picture. It is a symbol of power, strength, and thievery. Surprised? You’ll be interested to know that there are many things that you might not know about the eagle.

The Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle
by Nikographer on Flickr
by Nikographer on Flickr
by Hard-Rain on Flickr
by Hard-Rain on Flickr
Young Bald Eagle by Nikographer on Flickr
Young Bald Eagle by Nikographer on Flickr

The Bald Eagle

Let’s first begin with the most well-known and recognized “Bald” eagle. I use quotations around “bald” for a very good reason. Get a close up of the bird and you realize it is anything but bald. The white crown (cap) that it wears shines in the sunlight and lets everyone know that it is the Bald Eagle. When Europeans first come to North America and saw this creature, the word “bald” meant to them “white”. Thus giving us our Bald Eagle. It reminded them of their sea eagles back home.

The bald eagle is native only to North America and not found anywhere else in the world. Of the estimated 70,000 that currently fly our skies, half of them reside in Alaska. The bald eagle prefers to be near bodies of water since fish is their primary and preferred food source. Alaska is known for its large coastline and for having few people. This fits our feathered friend’s life just fine. The more people, the less animals and territory for the eagle. That is why over the years since the European invasion the numbers of bald eagles declined so rapidly.

In the early twentieth century, it began to be noticed how less often the eagle was being spotted flying high above over our lakes and rivers. After numerous studies it was discovered that there were just a few thousand left to cover the entire are of Canada, America, and Mexico. That is not leaving much chance of spotting an eagle. Which does lead to why we are so fascinated when we do see one. In 1967 our bald was placed on the endangered list. Now, it was protected. At that time there were about 500 mating pairs known to researchers. In just a few years in 1995 it was placed at threatened status. Then in 2007 it was removed from the endangered list. It was still protected but researchers could see huge results. From 500 mating pairs to about 5,000 in just a few decades. That is progress.

Protection continues under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 which prohibits not only killing of the birds, but any kind of contact with them including even possessing a fallen feather. Unfortunately, many foolish people were climbing into nests and harassing the birds which interfered with their survival. The only exceptions to this act were given to the Native Americans but only if their culture had already used eagles in many of their customs and ceremonies. They are still not allowed to kill but they can possess the feathers and the talons for ceremonial purposes only. If the Native Americans respected this stewardship of the eagles like their ancestors did, there would be no harassing of the bird since deep respect and honor of nature accompanied their traditions.

The eagle has proven itself to be resilient. They can live up to 30 years in the wild and they mate for life. They are dedicated to their mate. But if tragedy should strike, they know that they need to keep on so another mate is chosen without hesitation.

The males and females pretty much look identical. But the females get the upper-hand by being about 25% larger than their mates. I guess we don’t have to wonder who does the dishes in that household. When they go out on their own, they choose trees high up in the sky that can support a lot of weight. This is not because they eat a lot of fish, but because they like to make home roomy as the years go by. When a home chosen and constructed, there is no thoughts of moving on up, so to speak. They use the same next year after year. If man or nature removes their tree, another one in the same neighborhood is chosen. The nests can weigh as much as 2 tons (yes, I said “tons”) and be 9 feet wide. The depths of these nests with years of additions can get as high as 15 feet. Some have been documented to be even deeper.

Once a home is chosen, a mate is looked for. The mating of the eagles can be awesome to watch and at the same time frightful. They begin their courtship up in the sky with their talons outstretched. I might as well stop trying to describe their intricate mating and let a master tell it.

The Dalliance of the Eagles

Skirting the river road, (my forenoon walk, my rest,)

Skyward in air a sudden muffled sound, the dalliance of the eagles,

The rushing amorous contact high in space together,

The clinching interlocking claws, a living, fierce, gyrating wheel,

Four beating wings, two beaks, a swirling mass tight grappling,

In tumbling turning clustering loops, straight downward falling,

Till o'er the river pois'd, the twain yet one, a moment's lull,

A motionless still balance in the air, then parting, talons losing,

Upward again on slow-firm pinions slanting, their separate divorce flight,

She hers, he his, pursuing.

by Walt Whitman

After 35 days, the result is of young eagles to carry on their legacy. When the little ones break out of their shells both parents share in the raising of the young. They take turns going out and hunting for food while the other one stays to guard the next from would be predators. The young could be rather surprising to behold at first because they lack the renown white head. They are brown with a little white on their bodies, but not until they reach sexual maturity at age 5 do they show their “bald” side.

At full maturity they can be 3 feet tall with a wingspan of around eight feet. The body weight averages 13 pounds but some have been documented to be bigger. The northern eagles tend to be larger than their southern relatives. The immense size and their ferocious looks have laid the foundation for many of the myths that have spread about eagles. When we moved to Northern Wisconsin, I was amazed at the number of eagles that I could see sitting in my own yard or just driving to the store. I had a huge laugh (and kicked myself for not having a camera) when I drove by a lake to see the guys ice fishing. A few yards away was an extremely large eagle waiting to see what they brought up. Now the bird would not have attacked them for the fish but I’m sure he was hoping they would drop it. Overall, eagles prefer to avoid people and therefore build their homes away from them if possible and rarely hunt near large amounts of human activity. All of our neighbors and relatives have warned us about letting our cats or our dog. The eagles will take them away is we’re not careful. Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble but the odds are pretty slim that that will happen. The maximum amount of cargo an eagle can carry is 4 or 5 pounds and that is only if it acquired it at full speed. The distance it would be able to go would be short. To drop down and pick up prey, the eagle chooses animals less than 2 pounds so that they can lift easier and make it to their nest. The conclusion would be that most house pets would be safe from the mighty eagle. They prefer fish or carrion (already dead meat) to going around kidnapping pets.

I mentioned at the beginning of all this about them being thieves. Eagles are part of the raptor family which includes hawks, vultures, falcons, and owls. They are hunters, but at times they tend to be a little lazy and crooked. It is not uncommon for an eagle to sit in high reaches of the trees around a large body of water and watch as other birds swoop down attempting to catch an unsuspecting fish. As soon as one does, the eagle grins slightly and pushing forcefully into the air aiming at the successful hunter. With a few bumps and sharp talons, the eagle makes off with the prize leaving the other defeated and hungry. They won’t let the young of other birds in their 15 mile territory pass by either which is why you might see a few black birds chasing the massive eagle away from their nests.

In 1782 the bald eagle was chosen to be the national bird of the new country of the United States of America. It was chosen for its majestic and solid stance. It was regal. It was strong. And according to Benjamin Franklin and others it was a thief and should not even be considered to represent the country. He wanted the noble turkey who was honorable, smart, and beautiful to be the emblem. Thanksgiving Day would be a little different today if Franklin won the day. Instead it is the bald eagle that is on the official emblem of the United States.

by danihernanz on Flickr
by danihernanz on Flickr
by Mike Ashton on Flickr
by Mike Ashton on Flickr

The Golden Eagle

Most people think of the bald eagle when they hear “eagle”. But they are just a small part of the eagle family. We cannot leave out the Golden Eagle. No, they don’t wear gold or shine in the bright sunlight, but the golden eagle is just as majestic. At first glance they look like the young immature bald eagles and have commonly been mistaken for them. But upon closer look at the legs you see more plumage of the golden eagles while the bald eagles go bare legged.

Golden eagles can be found in the entire Northern Hemisphere. You won’t find them congregating around the lakes and rivers, but you will find them in the hills, cliffs and prairies. They prefer a banquet of mice, prairie dogs and other small critters. Fish are not on the menu.

Golden ones can grow to 3 feet high and get wingspans of 7 feet. On average they can weigh 15 pounds and can keep neck to neck with their bald relatives on cargo weight. During their 20 years life they build their homes in the rocky cliffs where they can see the terrain below them for any small movement. They are the primary eagle that is used in falconry due their “eagle” eyes.

These majestic birds have also been honored by various native tribes and today that prestige is carried by Germany, Austria, Mexico, and Kazakhstan as their national bird. You can also find the golden eagle on many official emblems of many other countries throughout the northern hemisphere.

by Zakery Portfolio on Flickr
by Zakery Portfolio on Flickr
by Typhoon Swell on Flickr
by Typhoon Swell on Flickr

The Harpy Eagle

Before we finish our journey through the life of an eagle, let’s take a look at the largest and the most powerful eagle on earth, the Harpy Eagle.

This immense eagle can be found in the tropical regions of Central and South America. They can grow up to 4 feet high and weigh 20 pounds. The wingspan and reach more than 6 ½ feet. Small and not-so-small critters need to be very wary as they go about their day.


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    • profile image

      LoveMcGrace 3 years ago

      Too bad this site/hub failed to feature or even just mention the critically endangered Great Philippine Eagle -- the most beautiful, powerful, and majestic eagle of them all. Charles Lindbergh called them the " world's noblest flier".

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      Isaac Dan 4 years ago

      This bird is something else! I love the information about it. I believe God wants us to live the eagle because he likens us to it.

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      justin 4 years ago

      Tha harpy eagle is not the largest and most powerful of all eagles i think its safer to say one of the largest and most powerful of all eagles.

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      victor omondi 4 years ago

      That is really motivating and encouraging piece of literature. I am seriously an eagle from today

    • profile image

      Natasha kinkel 5 years ago

      This website has so many facts about eagles.It is cool

    • profile image

      jade 5 years ago

      this webiste is very good it got good facts

    • Ian Dabasori Hetr profile image

      Ian D Hetri 5 years ago from Papua New Guinea

      Great presentation. I also wrote a hub about 7 Leadership Characteristics about Eagles Man should Learn from. Eagle just fascinate me and I keep studying this bird and get inspired by them.

      Voted up


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      amrutha a girl 5 years ago


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      zxcvbnmkjhgfdsawwerttyiopp 5 years ago

      I like them

    • profile image

      ijezie emmanuel 6 years ago

      i must say u did a wonderful job,bringing these facts together.keep up d good work!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted up and awesome. You took great care and pains to do this article. Good job from a former rehabber that worked with eagles. I believe my "Is It Karma?" might interest you.

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      unknown 6 years ago


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      ulyssesggb 6 years ago

      eagles are awesome and cool!!!!!!!!!!!:)

    • profile image

      patoz 6 years ago

      Quite informative. i've never seen one but my interest is piqued

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      Ogechi Maduforo. 6 years ago

      Beautiful illustration.No wonder God uses the eagle in His word to depict excellence in the live of a children.The eagle experience is a possibility in the life of every born again child of God via the Holy Spirit.

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      coby 6 years ago

      eagles rock

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      reeza 6 years ago

      great creatures, great information and videos;thanks

    • profile image

      Asif Ali 6 years ago

      Eagle, Eye

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      Ojediran Tosin 6 years ago

      Oh! What a great bird, I wish to have one in my house.

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      Mob 6 years ago

      Awesome story. Thanks for providing this informative write-up.

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      Spyros 6 years ago

      thanks i needed this for a composition

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      albert 6 years ago

      Contrary to a popular belief the Harpy eagle is not the most powerful eagle in the world.. It's the Philippine eagle it take much larger and heavier prey than Harpy eagle and more ferocious prey such as large snakes like pythons and cobras, monitor lizards, large monkeys like macaques. It feeds on civets, flying lemurs, monkeys, large birds, giant cloud rat, small dogs and pigs the largest prey it carries to it's nest was a 14 kg cervus deer.

      Harpy eagle basically feeds on tree dwelling animals like birds, small monkeys and 80% of it's diet composed of sloths.

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      David 6 years ago

      Philippine eagle is the Most powerful eagle on earth!

      Contrary to a popular belief that the Harpy eagle is the most powerful Theoretically due to it's thick legs and longest hind talon but this has to proved objectively.

      Basically Harpy hunts tree dwelling animals like bird, sloth and monkeys 80 % of which are sloth. Philippine eagle hunts a variety of large and more ferocious animals as compared to Harpy eagle.

      Link:(The Most Powerful Eagle)

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      Matthew 6 years ago

      WOW! i love eages, the bald Eagle!!!

    • profile image

      cadawa 6 years ago


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      ryan kesler 6 years ago

      you guys have a lot of imformation and it helped my son for his projects.

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      You have a ton of good information here...could have easily been two hubs! Voted interesting and up!

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      labistar 6 years ago

      u need to fly higher like an eagle because we are going to fly eagles in the air to meet the Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      Ugbomah ikechukwu 6 years ago

      This write up about the Eagle is awesome, magnificent and smooth sailing. It can really help we humans to discover a lot of hidden talents in us. I found a lot of things that will help me in contributing to a school magazine of which i will be drawing my lessons from the Eagle. Thank you guys for a job well done.

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      Anand 6 years ago

      why eagle's eyes are covered in photos from gulf countries

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      When I lived in SW Florida, we had an eagles nest near our home. You've done a good job with this article. Informative AND interesting.

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      Cupcakes 6 years ago

      Wow. Really, really informative. I have to do an article about these wonderful birds and this really helped. Love the pictures. Very amazing article. I enjoyed reading this and watching the videos. :)

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      John Manasseh 6 years ago

      Educative and nice looking pics and videos.

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      John Patrick Isiaka 6 years ago

      Interesting and enlighten.

    • WillSteinmetz profile image

      WillSteinmetz 6 years ago

      oh I love birds!Eagles are wonderful creatures.

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      Santee 7 years ago

      yours are cool and amazing i like your site.

    • profile image

      georgia 7 years ago

      i really like you site it is cool

    • profile image

      brooke 7 years ago

      u rock

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      ahsly 7 years ago

      i reallr like eagals they are one of my best animales

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      Jim 7 years ago

      What is an Eagle trying to signal when it puffs-out it's chest and partially extends it's wings, please ?

      This beautiful seen was witnessed by me as a pair of Eagles sat on a high wire and watched their eaglets fly.

      Thank You.

    • Chapter profile image

      Chapter 7 years ago from Indonesia

      great eagle. I love eagle especially peregrine falcon because it can hunt

    • MCWebster profile image

      MCWebster 7 years ago

      Very informative article, thank you. Eagles are certainly magnificent.

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      random  7 years ago

      omg its helping so much

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      random 7 years ago

      omg this is cool i have to do an ssa on this @ school and it helped me

    • profile image

      sasha 8 years ago

      hi i am sasha and i have never considered looking up eagles but now that i have i think they are AMAZING! they are such magical and majestic creatures!

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      bob 8 years ago

      their cool

    • Yard of nature profile image

      Yard of nature 8 years ago from Michigan

      Great information. I keep an eye on eagles near here and enjoy watching them, whether they're perching, soaring, fishing or just passing by.

    • peterander profile image

      peterander 8 years ago

      Your facts are amazing and the photographs add more color to your post. Great effort.

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      jonty 8 years ago

      Wow ... these pictures about eagles are amazingly fascinating....

      great keep up the good work ....

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      This Hub of yours is outstanding. I can see the painstaking research and well-thought-out writing of the information. I am glad I learned about eagles from you today. They are great critters.

    • Nolimits Nana profile image

      Nicolette Goff 8 years ago from British Columbia

      Very informative and interesting. We often have bald eagles right outside our front deck, perched on our 'eagle tree'. They're pretty common around this part of BC. Hadn't heard of the harpy eagle - the name sure fits the face on that one!

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      RGraf: Fantastic hub, that Harpy Eagle is INSANE! It almost looks like a bear crossed with an owl, I've never seen a bird so freakin' big before. Very cool hub, RGraf, just in time for Independence Day. Big thumbs up, from me!

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      TheSandman 8 years ago

      Magnificent story, And educational, I also loved the pictures and videos. thank You !!!!