Golden Eagle, White-Tailed Eagle and the Bald-Headed Eagle
The eagle is a large, powerfully built bird of prey and has always been known as the king of birds because of its size and majestic soaring flight. They are hugely popular as national emblems and symbols, and are used by many countries as signs. The Roman armies used to carry a figure of an eagle on a long pole when they marched into battle and the United States uses the bald-headed eagle as its emblem. The eagle was also chosen as the badge of the Royal Air Force just as the Australian wedge-tail eagle, one of the largest in the world, was adopted by the Royal Australian Air Force.
The golden eagle is the only eagle that nests in the British Isles and can usually be seen in the more remote parts of Scotland. It also lives in Asia, Africa and North America where once the Red Indians used the feathers as part of their head-dresses. Incredibly, the wing span of a female golden eagle can be over two metres from tip to tip. The golden eagle is a fine bird nearly one metre long and has piercing yellow eyes with a yellowish-brown head. The feathers on the rest of its body are dark brown right down to its feet.
The nest is called an eyrie and is carefully made. It is very large and made of branches of trees or heather, lined with grass and leaves. Eagles prefer to site their nests on the ledges of rock or high cliffs but occasionally they will nest high up in trees. The nest is used year after year but is always refreshed with new leaves, bracken or heather. Two eggs are laid usually in early April and these are a whiteish colour and sometimes seen with brown spots. The young eaglets are first covered with a thick white down known as baby feathers but as the birds grow these feathers become darker. Both eagle parents take a share in feeding their young and they do this with far more care than many smaller birds. Most eagles grab prey without landing and take flight with it so the prey can be carried to a perch and torn apart. Like all birds of prey, eagles have very large hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong muscular legs, and powerful talons. The female bird is larger and fiercer than the male and has extremely good eyesight.
The white-tailed or sea eagle used to nest in the British Isles until the early part of the 20th-Century but is now only a very rare visitor. It had very broad wings and a tail shaped like a wedge. Its beak is larger than that of the golden eagle and, preferring to live near sea coasts or large inland waters, it feeds on fish as well as other animals. This is typical in the breeding grounds in Iceland and the northern and eastern countries of Europe and Asia. However, young white-tailed eagles are great wanderers and are often seen a long way from home. The young birds do not have white tails and are often mistaken for golden eagles.
The bald-headed eagle of America is a close relation to the white-tailed eagle and it's not actually bald. It just looks bald because the feathers on its head are white. This is also a very large bird found near the sea coasts and rivers. There are many other kinds of eagles in the world particularly in Africa where the magnificent martial eagle nests at the top of very high trees and lives on small mammals.
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