The eagle is a large bird of prey known to have wide wings and a strong ability to fly. They are native to every continent in the world except Antarctica. There are more than 60 species, most of which are found in Europe, Asia and Africa. Like many birds of prey, they are highly adaptable and can survive in a wide variety of ecosystems. Most are grouped by species based on similar characteristics; these groups include snake eagles, hawk eagles, true eagles and sea eagles.
Snake eagles are native to Asia and Africa. They constitute a dozen species known for hunting snakes and reptiles. They and all species have a clear vision; claws and powerful beaks; and a fast, quiet flight. They are all qualities that make them effective hunters. Snake eagles are not as large as some other types, but they are still larger than most other birds.
Falcons are not falcons. They are birds that used to look like hawks. They populate the tropics, mainly in Central and South America, but also in Asia and Africa. They can be distinguished by their prominent head crests. Although most are medium-sized, the group includes the crowned eagle and the martial eagle, two of the largest species. Martial eagles can have a wingspan of 8 feet (2.4 meters) or more.
So-called true eagles include the golden eagle, spotted eagle, and werewolf, which are found in Africa, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. A notorious relationship, now gone, was Haast Eagle of New Zealand. Although extinct in 1400, Haast’s eagles were the largest known species in existence. They weighed 20 to 30 pounds (9 to 13.4 kilograms) each and could hit prey with the force of a wrecking ball.
Sea eagles include some of the largest species that still exist, including the Asian Steller’s sea eagle. These birds are mainly found near large bodies of water and live on fish and waterfowl. They are among the oldest eagles; Paleontological evidence suggests that similar birds existed at least 12 million years ago, and possibly up to 20 million years ago. The Cuban eagle is part of this family.
The Cuban eagle has long been a national symbol of the United States, but it is one of only two species of eagles found on the American continent. This species almost became extinct in the mid-20th century due to pesticide use and human development in its habitats. Conservation efforts have borne fruit and bald eagle populations have increased, especially in Alaska. The bird was removed from the endangered species list in the United States in 2007.