The eagle, the king of the animals

The eagle, the king of the animals

Eagle: presentation and information

The eagle, a diurnal bird of prey

To say that someone is not an eagle means that mentally, they don’t fly very high. The eagle is a formidable bird of prey of the Accipitridae family, which includes the vast majority of diurnal birds of prey (vultures, hawks, buzzards, eagles, lammergeiers, etc.).

There are about fifty species of eagles, but they have a common characteristic: they are formidable hunters. The whole of their morphology is a real hunting machine: a piercing sight, a hooked beak, and legs that are true talons.

An outstanding glider

And a splendid wingspan, which can reach almost two meters for the golden eagle. This bird of prey can glide for hours without tiring, letting itself be carried by the thermal currents. This exceptional ability is used both to migrate and to turn over a vast territorial area, before swooping on its prey.

Distinctive sign, the wings of the eagles have an emargination – the space between each remerge – very cut. This cut reduces air pressure and allows it to place perfectly.

The second fastest bird in the world

It is the only bird able to compete with the peregrine falcon (the latter compared to a fighter plane), the fastest bird in the world. It flies at an average speed of 120 km/h but can reach 200 kms/h. This is nothing compared to its dive speed: the eagle dives at an average of 240 kms/h, with peaks exceeding 300 kms/h.

In short, this bird of prey is the second fastest animal in the world, knowing that birds outpace all other species (including antelopes and some species of fish).

The female is bigger than the male

Everything is big for the eagle: its wingspan varies between a little less than two meters to three meters for a weight of six to seven kilos, sometimes more than ten kilos. It is also an exception to the rule of nature: the female is up to twice as big and taller than the male.

A silent raptor with a strange call

Like all raptors, the eagle is eminently silent. So rare are those who have ever heard an eagle’s cry. When it cries, it is said to glatit or trumpet: essentially during the nuptial periods. It also depends on the species of eagles: the crowned eagle emits rapid and high-pitched “ki-ki-ki-ki-ki”, the golden eagle has a cry that is close to that of the buzzard or even does not gravitate but lapidates, or whistles.

Its prey is bigger than it

This sharp hunter attacks prey larger than him: small mammals such as marmots, wild rabbits, hares and rodents. Particularity, it does not catch its prey in flight, because it is too heavy for him.

And it is always a terrestrial prey: it is even what differentiates it from the eagle or “fishing eagle”, which is precisely not an eagle. As for the golden eagle, it hunts in pairs, the first one killing the prey, the second one capturing it.

Another peculiarity, this bird of prey practices the “cainism”: the first eaglet born is the first served. First hatched, it is him that his parents continue to feed in priority. It is the strongest, at the expense of the others, which it does not hesitate to crunch. So much so that the offspring is often unique, the eagles having generally two eggs by clutch.

The eagle, the famous nest

The eagle’s nest has not left a good historical memory. But the image is right: this bird of prey builds its nest in height, at the top of a steep cliff or a tree. In France, as soon as they have the geographical choice, eagles opt for cliffs, it is safer.

They are not content with a single nest either: the eagle builds several nests, from two to eight, on the same territory. One of these nests is in a way its main residence: it regularly consolidates it in twigs, so that a nest can reach two meters in diameter for two meters thick! Moreover, the real name of this nest is an “area”.

The symbol of victory over evil

The eagle symbolizes the height of sight and intelligence. The king of animals is above the fray! In the Greco-Roman world, this bird of prey is Jupiter who kidnaps Ganymede, the lover of Zeus. In the Christian religion, it is the attribute of Saint John the Evangelist, nicknamed the Eagle of Patmos. It is true that the eagle attacks victoriously the snake, from the Book of Genesis.

Later, this bird of prey will be chosen by Napoleon as an imperial symbol, taken up by Victor Hugo in exile, who will write that “the eagle bows its head”. The eagle appears in the coats of arms of many countries, Austria, Poland, but also Mexico or Egypt. Note that the American eagle is not one, it is the bald eagle.

Note also that in heraldry, the eagle is female!

Eagle: representative species

The eagle, royal, the largest of all

Aquila chrysaetos or golden eagle or tawny eagle is distinguished by its size and its plumage of chocolate color at the adult stage, which draws towards the yellow at the level of the legs and the red at the neck. This European bird of prey is common in Switzerland, and in France in the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Its hooked beak measures about seven centimeters and the only nail of the thumb of its finger measures as much: it is this nail thanks to which it pierces its preys. It is not satisfied with small mammals, it is capable of butchering sheep, goats and deer. Deer and roe deer do not scare him.

The imperial eagle

Aquila heliacal is smaller than the golden one and has white spotted plumage and a much lighter gray tail. It is not a mountain dweller either, but a steppe dweller. And it is not sedentary either: the imperial eagles of the northern regions join the south pure the winter. Thus, this bird of prey is found on the shores of Lake Baikal, but also in Portugal and Spain.

Bonelli’s eagle

Aquila fasciata is a small eagle: it is a bit the exception to the rule. But it is common in the Mediterranean. With blackish-brown spotted plumage, it does not have this impressive internal “thumb”: but do not be mistaken, this bird of prey is able to capture poultry, peacocks, herons, ibises. It is also present in India.

Its ecological role

Competitor of shepherds and hunters, this bird of prey has not always been appreciated. However, it is an excellent indicator of the good ecological health of a territory.

On the other hand, eagles are markers, in spite of themselves, of the presence of heavy metals in the environment, in particular lead and cadmium, because of their accumulation in their liver and kidney: in Estramadura in Spain, the study of Bonelli’s eagles has thus demonstrated the presence of these metals in the environment.