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13 Different Types Of Eagles Present In The World

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Eagles, the majestic predatory birds of the Accipitridae family, are diverse and widespread, found everywhere except Antarctica. Each genus within this family showcases unique characteristics, but all eagles share common traits like fully feathered heads, broad beaks, strong feet, and curved talons.

Globally, there are over 70 species of eagles, informally grouped into four categories. These include fish eagles, harpy eagles, and booted eagles under the Buteoninae subfamily and snake eagles under the Circaetinae subfamily.

As dominant predators, they symbolize power and focus across various cultures. In this guide, we’ll explore different types of eagles, examining their behaviors, distinct appearances, and more.

Types of Eagle Species

Below are some commonly found eagle species, each representing the grandeur and diversity of this bird family.

1. Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle, renowned as the national bird of the USA, is one of the most iconic eagle types in the world. It boasts a deep brown body and an impressive wingspan of up to 7.7 feet.

Contrary to its name, the Bald Eagle has a head adorned with white feathers, creating its distinctive appearance. Easily recognizable, this eagle is found across North America, Canada, and Mexico, inhabiting forests, rivers, mountains, and swamps, and can weigh 6-15 pounds.

With white feathers on its head and neck and brown plumage, it primarily feeds on fish, catching them skillfully with sharp talons. When aquatic prey is scarce, it turns to other birds, small mammals, and carrion.

Capable of gliding at speeds of up to 40 mph and diving at an astonishing 99 mph, the Bald Eagles remain a symbol of American pride and natural majesty.

2. Golden Eagle

eagle species

The Golden Eagle, a symbol of agility and strength, ranks as one of the largest and most adept raptors in North America. Its striking appearance is marked by lustrous gold feathers on the back of its head and neck, and its formidable beak and talons highlight its hunting skills.

Predominantly seen in western North America, this eagle is often spotted soaring gracefully or diving rapidly to catch jackrabbits and other small mammals, its primary prey. As Mexico’s national bird, the Golden Eagle displays a dark brown body with lighter golden-brown plumage on its head and neck.

Golden eagles range from 33 to 38 inches in length, with an impressive wingspan of 6 to 7.5 feet, and weigh between 6 and 15 pounds.

Known for its incredible speed, it can dive at over 150 mph. Golden Eagles primarily hunt rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels, but their diet also includes carrion, reptiles, birds, fish, and larger insects. Remarkably, they are even capable of attacking fully-grown deer.

3. Harpy Eagle

kinds of eagles

The Harpy Eagle stands as one of the world’s largest and most formidable raptors. With rear talons measuring 4 to 5 inches, this eagle has the remarkable power to lift prey equal to its own weight.

Indigenous to Central and South America, the Harpy eagle gets its name from the mythical Harpies of Greek lore — fearsome creatures with women’s bodies and birds’ wings.

Unique in its nesting habits, the Harpy Eagle continually adds fresh green twigs and branches to its nest even after its chick hatches. It is believed to deter insects and parasites and create a cooler environment for the young.

As apex predators, Harpies primarily hunt sloths, opossums, and monkeys. Silent and stealthy, they glide through forests with a wingspan of up to 6.5 feet, conserving energy for the crucial moments of catching and lifting prey, sometimes as heavy as 17 pounds.

4. White-tailed Eagle

eagle breeds

The White-tailed Eagle is a massive raptor characterized by its long, heavy bill, broad wings resembling planks, and a relatively short, graduated tail, giving it the appearance of a ‘flying barn door.’

In flight, it soars with level wings, distinct from the slightly raised wings of the Golden Eagle. Its plumage is dark overall, with adults featuring a white tail, edged in black in juveniles, and a distinctive wedge shape.

The bird’s head and neck are pale, nearly white in mature individuals, contrasting with the dark brown juvenility. It takes 4-5 years to achieve full adult plumage. A notable feature is its hooked yellow beak, larger than that of a Golden Eagle, complemented by piercing golden eyes and yellow legs and talons.

Though juveniles may venture inland, white-tailed Eagles are typically found along rocky coastlines, estuaries, and lochs near the sea. Predominantly feeding on fish, they are generally uncommon and mainly inhabit seacoasts and large rivers.

5. Steller’s Sea Eagle

different species of eagles

The Steller’s Sea Eagle, an immense and awe-inspiring bird, is instantly recognizable with its large head and massive orange bill. Its striking appearance is characterized by rich brown feathers, a snow-white tail, belly, and shoulder patches.

As the largest sea eagle, native to Korea, Japan, and Russia’s Far East, it boasts a wingspan of over 2 meters (6.6 feet) and can weigh up to 20 pounds.

These eagles primarily feed in open waters along coastlines and lakes, with salmon being a major part of their diet in breeding grounds. They adeptly pluck fish from icy seas and often trail fishing boats for scraps, occasionally mingling with White-tailed Eagles in areas with plentiful prey.

Though not abundant in number, Steller’s Sea Eagle populations are currently stable. Revered for their magnificent feathers, which were once highly prized, they are now protected across their range. In Japan, they hold a special place in cultural reverence, known as O-washi.

6. Haast’s Eagle

eagle beak facts

The Haast’s Eagle, an extinct species, stands as a monumental figure in the annals of natural history. It was the largest and heaviest eagle species ever described, with an astonishing weight of up to 17.8 kg (39 pounds) and a wingspan reaching 3 meters.

Skeletal discoveries reveal a body and wings akin to a giant eagle, with legs and a bill surpassing the largest vulture species in strength and feet and claws comparable in size to those of a modern tiger. This formidable combination of features positioned it as the apex predator in the prehistoric ecosystems of South Island.

The Haast’s Eagle’s considerable size likely contributed to its survival through multiple glacial periods.

While the exact color of its plumage remains unknown, it’s speculated to have been a more subdued brown or brownish-grey, similar to other large forest eagles, rather than the brighter hues of tropical birds like the ornate hawk-eagle. This assumption aligns with most New Zealand birds’ generally less vibrant coloration.

7. Crowned Eagle

all types of eagles

The Crowned Eagle, revered as Africa’s most powerful eagle, is distinguished by its impressive wingspan of around 1.8 meters. These eagles are characterized by their eagle-like shape, featuring rounded, heavy wings, formidable talons, and densely feathered legs.

Their small faces are adorned with large, crested, swept-back feathers, creating the ‘crowned’ appearance that gives them their name. Crowned Eagles measure 80 to 99 cm (31 to 39 inches) in length. Adults typically weigh between 3 to 4.5 kg, with some large females reaching up to 5 kg.

The eagle’s head is dark brown, while the torso showcases dark upperparts and a strikingly spotted breast and thighs, coupled with long, striped tail feathers. Inhabiting a variety of habitats across Sub-Saharan Africa, the Crowned Eagle is known for its capability to hunt prey 4 to 6 times its own weight.

They are predominantly found in thicker woodland, lowland, montane, and riverine forests, preying on monkeys and other small-to-medium-sized vertebrates. Their presence is often revealed by an undulating display flight and a distinct loud “wheee-yooo, wheee-yooo, wheee-yooo” call.

8. Philippine Eagle

how many species of eagles are there

The Philippine Eagle, a magnificent and extremely rare raptor, stands as one of the largest eagles in the world and proudly holds the title of the National Bird of the Philippines. This majestic bird boasts a massive dark black bill with a hint of blue, complemented by striking neon yellow feet and pale gray-blue eyes.

Its appearance is further distinguished by a cottony white belly, contrasting sharply with a darker back. The fringe-like feathers on its legs harmonize with the long brown feathers that elegantly adorn its head and the back of its neck, adding to its regal and distinctive look.

Inhabiting lowland and montane forests, its powerful yellow feet, a thick silver-gray bill with a black tip, and the black area around the eye make it unmistakable when perched. In flight, its broad wings set it apart from other raptors. Its distinct call is a descending, whistled ‘weeuuuu!’ repeated at intervals.

Endemic to the Philippines, the eagle’s small and rapidly declining population has been a concern for over 40 years. Its recent designation as the National Bird has significantly raised awareness about the bird and its endangered status, playing a crucial role in conservation efforts.

9. Sea Eagle

what is a group of eagles called

Sea Eagles encompass a group of birds of prey, including species like African fish eagles, Steller’s sea eagles, and bald eagles. These majestic birds, found primarily in the Arctic region, including Greenland, are known by various names.

Their size varies significantly by species, ranging from 60 cm to 105 cm in length, and they can weigh between 1 to 9 kg. Sea Eagles are commonly found near rivers, lakes, and tidewaters worldwide, except in South America.

Their diet is diverse and location-dependent, including fish, small mammals and birds, carrion, crabs, mollusks, sea snakes, crabs, and tortoises. Appearance-wise, most Sea Eagles, except for the Sanfords and Pallas, have white bellies and tails, with heads that are either white or tan. Their beaks are distinctively arched.

Sea Eagles predominantly feed by fishing. They dive and snatch prey just under the water’s surface and are also known to pilfer food from other birds like the osprey. An interesting anatomical feature is their “crop,” a pouch in the chest that serves as a holding area for food when the stomach is full, allowing for later digestion.

10. Black Eagle

eagles types

The Black Eagle, a magnificent forest raptor, inhabits the broadleaved evergreen forests from Pakistan and Indochina to the Malay Peninsula. With its almost entirely black plumage, long wings, and tail, this eagle is notably elegant and displays remarkable agility both in hunting and during flight.

This species adapts well to forested areas and adjacent open spaces. Its diet is diverse, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, and eggs, often hunting in pairs. The Black Eagle is particularly known for its breathtaking aerial displays at the start of the breeding season, featuring steep dives and mate chases.

In appearance, adult Black Eagles are dark at a distance, but a closer look reveals pale hues barring on their primaries, secondaries, and undertail. Their bright yellow bill and feet are distinctive features. The Black Eagle is a large bird, measuring 69-81 cm in length, with a wingspan of 164-178 cm, and weighing between 1000-1600 g.

Classified as rare to uncommon, the Black Eagle faces threats primarily from deforestation, leading to a gradual decline in its population. However, as of now, it is not considered globally threatened.

11. Wedge-tailed Eagle

different type of eagles

The Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey and one of the largest eagles globally, is distinguished by its impressive wingspan of 2.3 meters, a uniquely long, wedge-shaped tail, and legs feathered down to the toes.

Its bill ranges from pale pink to cream, the eyes are brown to dark brown, and the feet are off-white. Notably, females, weighing between 4.2 and 5.3 kg, are larger and heavier than males, who weigh between 3.2 and 4.0 kg.

This eagle inhabits various environments from sea level to alpine regions, favoring wooded, forested lands and open country while typically avoiding rainforests and coastal heaths. It is found throughout mainland Australia, Tasmania, and southern New Guinea.

The Wedge-tailed Eagle primarily feeds on carrion but includes live prey in its diet, with rabbits and hares being the most significant live prey items reflecting the availability of local prey.

12. Eastern Imperial Eagle

species of eagles

While bearing a resemblance to the Golden Eagle, the Eastern Imperial Eagle is distinct, with smaller talons and a lighter weight, indicative of its preference for smaller prey. This very large eagle has a dark-brown body that contrasts with its pale head and nape. The underwings are dark with low contrast.

The Eastern Imperial Eagle has a wingspan of 200-220 cm in females and 180-200 cm in males, with a length of 73-83 cm. The weight ranges from 3,150-4,550 g for females and 2,450-2,750 g for males.

The immature Eastern Imperial Eagles are notably different in appearance, featuring a sandy brown color with prominent streaks and a pale rump that starkly contrasts with the dark tail and flight feathers.

They breed in areas where forests mix with steppes and agricultural lands, often seen perched on pylons. During winter, they migrate to open habitats, including croplands, adapting to a variety of environments.

13. Martial Eagle

how many eagle species are there

The Martial Eagle, a colossal bird with a short yet prominent crest, is one of the largest eagles in Africa and powerful enough to knock a man off his feet. Adults display a uniform brown color on the head, back, and chest, contrasting with a pale belly marked by brown blotches.

Typically found either solitary or in pairs, they inhabit woodlands, plains, and semi-deserts, hunting for vertebrates.

The Martial Eagle has a length of 78 to 86 cm, weighs between 2.4 to 5 kg, boasts a wingspan of 1.9 to 2.4 meters, and has a lifespan of approximately 14 years.

These eagles possess extraordinarily keen eyesight, capable of spotting prey from six kilometers away. They primarily hunt in the air, swooping down unexpectedly on their prey.

Conclusion

The world of eagles is a fascinating and diverse one, spanning from the majestic Bald and Golden Eagles to the powerful Martial and immense Steller’s Sea Eagles. Each species, with its unique characteristics, plays a vital role in its ecosystem.

Understanding these magnificent birds not only enriches our knowledge of nature but also highlights the importance of conservation efforts to protect these incredible avian predators and their habitats for future generations.

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