ADOPT AN EAGLE
Eagle, common name for large predatory birds of the family
Falconidae (hawk family), found in all parts of the world.
Eagles are similar to the buteos, or buzzard hawks, but
are larger both in length and in wingspread (up to 71⁄2
ft/228 cm) and have beaks nearly as long as their heads.
They are solitary birds, said to mate for life. The nest, or
aerie, of twigs and sticks is built at a vantage point high
in a tree or on a cliff in a permanent feeding territory and
is added to year after year, the refuse of the previous
nests decomposing beneath the new additions. Nests
can become enormous, measuring up to ten feet across
and weighing well over 1,000 pounds. The eaglets (usually
two) do not develop adult markings until their third year,
when they leave parental protection and seek their own
mates and territories.
The American bald (in the sense of white, as in piebald), or
white-headed, eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus) is found in all parts of North America near water and feeds chiefly on dead fish (sometimes robbing the osprey's catch) and rodents. It is dark brown with white head, neck, and tail plumage. The northern species (found chiefly in Canada) is slightly larger than the southern, which ranges throughout the United States. With only 417 known breeding pairs in the 48 contiguous states in 1963, the bald eagle population was dwindling alarmingly; a decade later they were placed on the endangered species list. In one of the greatest success stories in species recovery, conservation methods such as the banning of DDT and the prohibition against eagle hunting had by the beginning of the 21st cent. increased the breeding population in the lower 48 states to some 5,000 pairs. The bald eagle was removed from endangered status in 1995 and is now classified as threatened.
The golden, or mountain, eagle (genus Aquila–whence aquiline, meaning eaglelike) is widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, in the United States found mostly in the West. Unlike the bald eagle, it is an aggressive predator. In Asia it is trained to hunt small game. The adult is sooty brown with tawny head and neck feathers; unlike those of the bald eagle, its legs are feathered to the toes. The gray and Steller's sea eagles (also in the genus Haliaetus) are native to colder areas of the Northern Hemisphere; the king or imperial eagle to S Europe and Asia; and the rare monkey-eating eagle to the Philippines. The harpy, or harpy eagle (Thrasyaetus harpyia), of Central and South America, the largest (38 in./95 cm long) of the hawks, eats macaws and sloths. It was named for the winged monsters of Greek myth and was called "winged wolf" by the Aztecs.
Eagles–impressive both in size and for their fearsome beauty–have long been symbols of royal power and have appeared on coins, seals, flags, and standards since ancient times. The eagle was the emblem of one of the Ptolemies of Egypt and was borne on the standards of the Roman armies and of Napoleon's troops. The American bald eagle became the national emblem of the United States by act of Congress in 1782. In folklore the eagle's ability to carry off prey, including children (e.g., the legend of Ganymede), has been exaggerated; even the powerful golden eagle can lift no more than 8 lb (3.6 kg).
Eagles are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Falconiformes, family Accipitridae.