Jeremy explores many topics as he juggles his passion for writing with his career as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Eagles as National Symbols
Being raised in America, eagles have always represented freedom and justice to my country. But until recently, I hardly knew of other species beyond the bald eagle—many of which are larger and used by other countries as national birds!
Eagles are incredible creatures with unique characteristics; for example, females are almost always larger than males. Join me today as we countdown the some of nature's most amazing predators by size!
8. Crowned Eagle
Prey: Mostly small mammals
Also called the African crowned eagle, this bird of prey soars through the skies with its colorful feathers, typically shades of orange, brown, black, and white. The crowned eagle resides in forests, and regrettably has been edging closer to the endangered list due to human deforestation. The bird is non-migratory and bolder than most eagles, making it a preferred specimen for scientists to study.
7. Martial Eagle
Prey: A wide variety, including small birds, reptiles, and mammals
The largest African eagle, the martial eagle earns seventh place today. Despite its size, this predator possesses a comparatively small tail. This bird is easily recognized by its grey-brown color and dark spots on the underside of its body. Like other eagles, females tend to grow larger than males. Martial eagles are often hunted by worried farmers who fear the bird will prey on their livestock; however they rarely take such large prey. African wildlife beware; the martial eagle has truly incredible eyesight, over three times as powerful as man's.
6. Bald Eagle
Location: North America, usually in the United States and Canada
Prey: Mostly fish
This majestic avian is, of course, America's national bird and the sixth overall largest eagle. It lives around marshes, seacoasts, rivers, and lakes to help it catch fish. The bald eagle's dark brown plumage clashes with its white face, giving it a "bald" appearance. Unlike some eagles, this feathered animal is partially migratory. It used to be on the endangered species list, but has successfully repopulated and is no longer endangered or threatened.
5. Golden Eagle
Location: Northern Hemisphere
Prey: Varies, but often small mammals
The golden eagle, the most widely spread of all eagles, takes today's fifth place. With such a large distribution, the bird can exist in a variety of habitats, but prefers open areas such as mountains. It's stunningly golden-brown colored, although the many subspecies of the golden eagle each display varied pigments in their plumage. Both sexes work to court the other; a male will drop and catch a rock in midair, while a female will do the same with a clod of earth. If all goes well, the pair will mate and likely stay together for life.
4. Wedge-tailed Eagle
Prey: Mammals, even larger ones such as kangaroos or goats
An amazing animal, the wedge-tailed eagle is a survivor. Eagles, like many predators, tend to be solitary creatures besides their mate, but wedge-tailed eagles will work together to accomplish goals. They've been observed driving groups of mammals in order to isolate a weaker, slower target. Wedge-tailed eagles are aptly named after the unique shape of their tail, and their colors range from auburn to black.
3. Steller's Sea Eagle
Location: Northeast Asia
Prey: Mostly fish
In terms of weight, Steller's sea eagle tends to be the heaviest in the world, though for other measurements (such as wingspan) other species are bigger. Like all coastal eagles, this bird hunts fish, particularly salmon. Seagulls are also targeted when necessary. Steller's sea eagles are easily distinguished by the bright blue-white feathers that contrast with the dark-brown or black ones. Where did its name come from? It's a testament to the deeds of German botanist and zookeeper Georg Steller.
2. Harpy Eagle
Location: South America and southern Mexico
The mighty harpy eagle steals second spot today. Found throughout rainforests in South America, this creature is the national bird of Panama. It feeds on mostly tree-dwelling mammals, including monkeys and sloths. A few fun facts about it: the harpy eagle is named after the harpies of Greek mythology, wind spirits with the body of an eagle but the face of a human. Also, it inspired J.K. Rowling to create Fawkes the Phoenix in the popular Harry Potter series.
1. Philippine Eagle
Prey: Monkeys, birds, reptiles
Number one with regards to wingsurface and length, the Philippine eagle is fittingly the national bird of the Phillipines. It wears a majestic brown and white plumage. Also called the monkey-eating eagle, the Philippine eagle does indeed consume monkeys, but also hunts smaller birds and reptiles. Despite being an apex predator, an animal at the top of the food chain, this avian classifies as critically endangered due to loss of habitat. Efforts are being made to protect the animal, and only the future efforts of mankind will decide its survival.
Hopefully you enjoyed learning about some of the world's largest birds. While they are predators, eagles don't target humans, and we have little to fear from their kind. Many are endangered or threatened, and I believe a growing awareness of their plight can help save these beautiful animals.
But for now, vote for which eagle you favor and I'll see you at our next nature countdown!
© 2016 Jeremy Gill
Anthony on January 03, 2018:
I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for the info. This the most accurate ranking I've ever read with regards to eagle.