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3 Fun Facts About Eagles
Most people don’t realize that about 60 species of eagles are flying through skies around the world. The majority of these regal birds — around 45 species to be more exact — live in Africa and Eurasia. But they are heralded the world over as symbols of power and majesty. Eagles have long been a symbol of royalty and are revered as the bird of kings.
There are other facts about eagles that are not generally known. Some of these make them among the most interesting of birds.
1) The eyes have it. If there is one superpower that an eagle has, it’s the power of eyesight. An eagle can spot a rabbit nearly two miles away. Its eyes are nearly as large as a human’s, but it has vastly superior vision, greater field of view, and can see more colors than we do. An eagle has two foveae, or centers of focus, allowing them to see to the front and side simultaneously. A bald eagle can spot a fish while flying several hundred feet above the water. An eagle closes its eyes when it sleeps. But the bird has a translucent membrane that serves to clear the cornea of dust, and the bird uses this to blink. The eyelid moves from front to back rather than up and down. While it blinks, the eagle can still see through it.
2) There are three unofficial types of eagles. Since there are so many different types of eagles, it can help to break them down into several types. These are based upon the types of prey or similarities to other birds of prey.
- Buzzard or Hawk Eagles. As the category suggests, these are eagles that resemble hawks, with similar colors and markings and smaller beaks than larger types of eagles. These include the ornate hawk-eagle from the tropical Americas and the American Golden Eagle.
- Snake Eagles. These eagles are raptors that specialize in hunting snakes and serpents. They can dispatch a venomous snake with ease. They tend to frequent the desert and areas where snakes live. They live mainly in Africa and can decapitate a cobra with no trouble.
- Fish Eagles. These are the eagles that snatch fish from the water. The American bald eagle is the most well-known member of this group. It also includes the Stellar’s Sea Eagle, a bird with an enormous wingspan of six and a half feet.
3) The Fast and Furious. Eagles can fly at jaw-dropping speeds, especially when they’re diving on their prey. An eagle that is flapping its wings can typically fly around 30 miles per hour. When flying low to the ground, an eagle has to expend more effort to stay aloft. But if it ascends higher, it can go faster depending on the velocity of the wind currents carrying it. When soaring on the air currents, eagles can fly with very little effort and do not require excessive amounts of oxygen to do so. They can glide for hours. This is why when you see an eagle circling up among the clouds, it seems to be barely moving its wings. Even from these sky-touching heights, an eagle can spot a duck or a rabbit and decide it’s time for lunch. When falling upon prey, a bald eagle can reach speeds of about 100 miles per hour, and a golden eagle can get even faster at 150 miles per hour. This speed can enable them to kill their prey instantly upon impact. They are also good at overtaking and stealing prey from other birds, particularly ospreys, their arch-rivals.