January 10th is the Save The Eagles Day, and we decided to raise awareness of this day and eagles in general by writing a post dedicated to these magnificent birds. The Save The Eagles Day was started as one of the campaigns to save the bald eagle, who was facing extinction in the 20th century and the efforts were successful as it was removed from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife in 2007. The national animal of the USA and a symbol of power, courage, and freedom, the bald eagle has been saved, but the future of some other species is still uncertain, making Save The Eagles Day topical every year. To show you how amazing creatures eagles actually are, we compiled this post with 25 Interesting Facts About Eagles That Might Change The Way You See Them.
Currently, there are about 60 species of eagles. Most of them live in Eurasia and Africa, but some species can be also found in the Americas as well as in Australia.
A vast majority of eagles are carnivorous, but the vulturine fish eagle, a large bird of prey native to the sub-Saharan Africa, feeds mainly on the fruit of the oil palm.
The world's largest eagles (such as the Harpy eagle and the Philippine eagle), have a wingspan of more than 250 cm (8 ft) and have been known to kill and carry off prey as large as deer, goats, and monkeys.
In most eagle species, females are larger and stronger than males.
Some eagles, such as the martial eagle, are capable of soaring for long hours without a single wing beat. They use thermals (columns of hot rising air) to do that.
Many species lay just two eggs and the older, larger chick frequently kills its younger sibling once it has hatched. The parents take no action to stop the killing.
The Steller's sea eagle, with some of its specimens weighing in over 9 kg (20 lb), is the heaviest eagle in the world.
Eagles’ eyes have a million light-sensitive cells per square mm of retina, five times more than humans. While humans see just three basic colors, eagles see five. These adaptations gives eagles extremely sharp eyesight and enable them to spot even well-camouflaged potential prey from a very long distance.
The largest known kill by an eagle was a duiker deer weighing 37 kg (82 lb), which was up to 8 times more than the weight of the martial eagle that killed it.
Most eagles have a varied diet, but some of them are highly specialized raptors. The Verreaux’s eagle, for example, feeds almost exclusively on rock hyraxes.
Measuring up to 102 cm (3.35 ft) in length and weighing up to 8 kg (17.6 lb), the Philippine eagle is one of the largest, heaviest, and strongest eagles in the world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the rarest birds as it is critically endangered. Killing this bird in the Philippines (where it is the national animal) is punishable under local law by up to 12 years in jail.
The largest tree nest ever recorded for any animal species was built by the bald eagle. It was 4 m (13 ft) deep, 2.5 m (8.2 ft) wide, and 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) in weight.
Eagles have played an important role in many cultures – both ancient and recent. Ancient writers such as Lucan and Pliny the Elder claimed that the eagle was able to look directly at the sun, and that they forced their fledglings (young eagles) to do the same. Those that blinked would be cast from the nest. This belief persisted until the Medieval Era.
Eagles are an exceptionally common symbol in heraldry, being considered the "King of Birds," in contrast to the lion, the "King of Beasts." In fact, as many as 25 countries currently have eagles depicted in their coats of arms.
Bald eagles are not bald. The name derives from an older meaning of the word, derived from piebald, referring to their white heads.
Similar to horses, who can sleep while standing up, eagles have a specialized mechanism in their feet that allows them to lock in position so they can sleep while sitting on a branch.
To defend their territories and attract a mate, bald eagles put on spectacular aerial displays including death-defying swoops and seemingly suicidal dogfights that involve locking talons with another bird and free-falling in a spiral.
Eagles are informally divided into four groups: fish eagles (feed mainly on fish), booted eagles (have feathered lower legs), snake eagles (hunt reptiles), and Harpy eagles (inhabit tropical forests).
Eagles have up to 7,000 feathers that account for about 5% of their body mass.
With maximum air speed of 320 km/h (200 mph), the golden eagle is the fastest eagle and the second fastest bird in the world (after the peregrine falcon who can fly as fast as 389 km/h or 242 mph).
Despite all the efforts made to protect them, 68% of bald eagle deaths are still caused by humans. Scientists found that 23% of eagles died when they hit man-made objects like wires, cars, and buildings, while a further 22% died after being shot. Another 5% died after they were trapped, 9% from being electrocuted, and 11% after they had been poisoned.
Relative to their size, eagles' wings actually contain more power and strength than the wings of an airplane.
Most birds of prey have the habit of glancing over their shoulder just in case another predator is behind them. Not eagles, who are obviously confident enough that nothing would dare to attack them.
Photos: 25. Yathin S Krishnappa via wikimedia commons, 24. Schristia via flickr, 23. Erik Kilby via flickr, 21. Lip Kee via flickr, 19. Jambomambo13 via wikimedia commons, 18. Peter Kaminski via flickr, 17. Bernard Dupont via flickr, 16. Francesco Veronesi via flickr, 15. Shankar s. via flickr, 14. USFWSmidwest via flickr, 10. Lewis Hulbert via wikimedia commons, 8. US Fish & Wildlife Service Headquarters via flickr, 6. Tony Hisgett via flickr, 5. Tony Hisgett via flickr, 3. Derek Keats via flickr, 2. Omdaku via wikimedia commons, 1. Derek Keats via flickr