Eagles are iconic, formidable, and impressively massive birds of prey. Figuring out which eagles are the most important on the planet requires an examination of mass, size, and wingspan. The lens must be directed in any respect continents (save for Antarctica) and even again in time. It’s also vital to think about the collective averages versus the best particular person dimensions ever recorded (within the wild or captivity). As you may suspect, overlapping bell curves create vital grey areas. The primary entry on this record is clearly the apex eagle, however past that, some interpretation is required.
Haast’s Eagle (Harpagornis moorei)
The biggest documented species of eagle, by any metric, was the Haast’s eagle. The large New Zealand predator went extinct about 500 – 600 years in the past, however its dimensions and traits have been surmised by analyzing skeletal stays and incorporating Maori oral traditions. It’s estimated that the Haast’s eagle weighed in at a whopping 39 kilos, with a physique size of 35 – 55 inches and a most wingspan of about 9.8 ft. It used its colossal energy to hunt moa (9 species of huge, flightless birds). Overhunting of moa by people led not solely to their extinction however worn out the required meals supply to maintain the Haast’s eagle inhabitants.
Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)
Steller’s sea eagle (named after German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller) is without doubt one of the largest residing eagles. On common, it weighs 10.8 – 20.9 kilos, with a physique size of 33.5 – 41.3 inches and a wingspan of 6.2 – 8.2 ft. Although there are counter examples of particular person eagles from different species, Steller’s sea eagle is, on common, the heaviest. They maintain their notable girth on a food regimen of fish and water birds. The inhabitants (which will be discovered all through East Asia) is reducing and is listed as “Weak” (VU) on the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature’s Purple Checklist.
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
The golden eagle shouldn’t be solely massive however quick! In reality, it’s second solely to the peregrine falcon by way of uncooked pace. Solely these two species can attain the 200 mph threshold whereas diving for prey (principally consisting of small mammals, in addition to fish, birds, and reptiles). Whereas hovering, the golden eagle can attain speeds of 30 mph. What is especially spectacular about these statistics is that they’re logged by such a large creature. With a mean wingspan of seven.2 ft, a peak of about 33.1 inches, and weighing in at 13.5 kilos, the golden eagle is without doubt one of the largest birds in North America. The biggest particular person ever caught within the wild was a 17-pound feminine. Nonetheless, in captivity, one golden eagle grew to a hefty 27 kilos, with a wingspan of 9.25 ft.
Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)
The Harpy eagle is the most important and most dominant raptor within the Amazon rainforest and isn’t far faraway from the most important on the planet. This carnivorous predator has a wingspan of 5.75 – 7.3 ft, the most important talons of any residing eagle, the flexibility to elevate prey equal to its physique weight (9 – 20 kilos), and it will possibly attain a prime pace of fifty miles per hour. It makes use of these instruments to hunt a wide selection of animals, together with sloths, monkeys, porcupines, squirrels, anteaters, iguanas, snakes, different birds (and their eggs), such because the macaw, and plenty of extra. Harpy eagles have an enormous territory spanning from Mexico right down to Argentina, however their numbers are on the decline, and they’re listed as “Close to Threatened” (NT).
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Every little thing is larger in America. Due to this fact, pretty as they might be, no finch or sparrow would suffice for the nationwide image of freedom – solely the bald eagle can handle that. This patriotic magnificence stands proudly at 34 – 43 inches, with a 6 – 8 ft wingspan, and weighs in at 6.5 – 14 kilos. Satirically, the bald eagle was practically worn out in the US. They have been beforehand hunted en masse, and widespread use of chemical pesticides (DDT) led to reproductive points. Fortunately, the bald eagle represents a victory for animal conservation. In 1972, DDT was restricted, and the inhabitants was boosted via reintroduction applications. Since then, the bald eagle has been upgraded from endangered to “Least Concern” (LC), and the inhabitants continues to be rising.
Australian Wedge-Tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)
The biggest chook of prey down-under is the Australian wedge-tailed eagle. It ranges from 34.3 – 41.3 inches in size, with a wingspan of about 7.5 ft, and females weigh in at 9.3 – 11.7 kilos, whereas males weigh 7 – 8.8 kilos. Although ominous-looking creatures, the Australian wedge-tailed eagle opts to eat principally carrion, although they’re greater than able to searching reside prey. For the latter method, they like rabbits, however in teams, they’ll kill animals as massive as lambs and grownup kangaroos. This species will be discovered all through mainland Australia, Tasmania, and Southern New Guinea.
Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)
The Martial eagle, or African Martial eagle, is the most important eagle in Africa (although the African topped eagle and Verreaux’s eagle are different spectacular specimens on this continent). The Martial eagle weighs between 6.6 – 13.2 kilos, has a physique size of 30.7 – 37.8 inches, and a wingspan of 6.2 – 8.5 ft. These charming birds reside all through most of sub-Saharan Africa, significantly in open woods, woodland edges, wooded savannah, and thornbush habitats. They hunt throughout the day and spend a big portion of their time excessive within the air. They will spot their prey, starting from small antelopes, monkeys, and home animals, to even venomous snakes and wild cats from miles away. Their inhabitants is declining, and the Martial eagle is at the moment listed as “Weak.”
White-Tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
The white-tailed eagle, also called the white-tailed sea eagle, Ern (Erne), grey sea eagle, or Eurasian sea eagle, is Europe’s largest eagle and one in every of Asia’s largest. The white-tailed eagle has a mean weight of 6.6 – 15.4 kilos, a size of 26 – 37 inches, and a wingspan of 5.9 – 8.2 ft. They’re typically present in Northern Europe and Asia, breeding as far West as Greenland and as far East as Hokkaido, Japan. They have a tendency to maintain near water, and within the winter, some flock to coastal spots within the South. The white-tailed eagles are diurnal and spend an admirable period of time patiently perched on timber or crags. That’s, till it’s time to catch fish, scavenge carrion, or defend their territory.
These are simply a number of the most spectacular species of eagles discovered all through the world. Every is a finely tuned predator that makes use of measurement to its full extent. Although dominantly positioned within the meals chain, eagles are nonetheless impacted by environmental modifications, counting on regular meals sources freed from pollution to maintain their spectacular physiques and reproductive capabilities. Haast’s eagle was misplaced, and the bald eagle practically adopted go well with, however tendencies appear to be enhancing in lots of circumstances for these massive and luxurious animals.