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Eagles

© Richard Lee

Eagles are powerful birds of prey heralded for their strength, and have adapted to be one of the most ferocious avian predators. However, the hunters have become the hunted, with many species now at risk of illegal shooting and poisoning.

There are 68 species of eagle in the family Accipitridae, and species are classified as an eagle based on their ability to hunt large prey (over 50cm in length) rather than because they are closely related. Eagles can be found on every continent except Antarctica, though most live in Africa and Asia. They are threatened by climate change, hunting, habitat loss, and electrocution from power lines.

Family: Accipitridae
Diet: Carnivore
Life span: up to 30 years
Weight: up to 7 kg
Wingspan: up to 8 feet
Group name: congress, convocation

Flight for survival

Find out more about our work to save the Vulnerable Eastern Imperial Eagle © BirdLife Europe / Flight for Survival campaign

Species information

Find out more about the 68 species of eagle and all other birds on the BirdLife DataZone

Did you know?

Eagles are some of the largest birds of prey. The White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla has the largest wingspan at up to 8 feet long, whereas the Steller’s Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus (Vulnerable) is the heaviest and can weigh up to around 7 kg. Female eagles are typically larger than males of the same species.

Eagles are ferocious predators, their size and strength putting them at the top of the food chain. They use their sharp, strong talons to snatch and grasp their prey and tear the flesh with their large hooked beak. Their choice of prey depends on species and includes fish, birds, snakes, or often any medium-sized animal that crosses their path. Their sharp eyesight enables them to spot prey the size of a rabbit around three miles away, before they swoop down, grab their target, and carry it to a perch to eat.

Eagle nests are called eyries and are built in inaccessible places, typically high up on trees or cliffs. They will often re-use the same nest year on year, topping it up with new material when needed, and it can get large enough to cause damage to the tree. Most species lay an average of two eggs and it is not uncommon for the eldest chick to kill the younger to ensure its own survival.

© Richard Lee

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