Why eagles are the kings of the sky?

Picture of a bald eagle in flight.

King of birds so it is said of the soaring eagle!

Nation after nation has in effect placed a crown on the eagle.

There is no doubt about it.

Standing three feet high and with a wingspread of seven feet or more, many of these birds are unusually striking in appearance.

Eagles strength 

Powerful wings, curved beak and sharp, strong talons or claws make the eagle a most formidable bird.

Little wonder that Assyria, Persia, Greece, France, Germany and the United States have used the eagle as an emblem.

The bird’s success in overcoming its prey, plus its commanding appearance, has given reason for calling eagles feathered monarchs of the sky.

The golden eagle of the Northern Hemisphere is a magnificent bird with a wingspread up to well over six feet.

Picture of a golden eagle.

This blackish-brown bird is so named because it has a golden sheen on its nape and back.

One pair of golden eagles were observed dining upon a dead ox, at the same time keeping at a distance a flock of California condors-birds about twice the eagle’s size!

When the golden eagle pounces upon prey such as rabbits, woodchucks, prairie dogs and ground squirrels, it is like an animated thunderbolt.

It plunges after its prey with tremendous force and velocity, so that the sound of the air whining through its pinions can be heard for some distance.

On one occasion, the golden eagle was clocked at 120 miles per hour.

Australia has a feathered monarch in its wedge tailed eagle-a bird whose wingspread is about seven and a half feet.

Picture of a wedge tailed eagle.

Strength personified, this eagle has a beak like a vice, talons like grappling hooks.

“The eagle struck at the young kangaroo,” says one account of this bird’s exploits, “while it was in the middle of a bound.

The great bird paused for a mere flick of time on its shoulders, and, almost without losing the stroke of his wings, he rose again and rested in a tree.

His work was done.

He could afford to wait.

The young kangaroo hopped on.

Slowly it swung in an aimless circle, gradually narrowing its orbit until it spun about on nerveless legs and fell in a quivering heap.

The eagle, in one lightning probe, had pierced its spinal column.

Monkeys for dinner 

Picture of an African eagle.

A monkey feeding bird is the African crowned eagle, whose feathers and huge claws have long been prized by African chieftains.

Most powerful of tropical eagles is perhaps the famed harpy eagle-named after the hideous monster of Greek mythology.

No other eagle seems so sinister-looking as the harpy.

With its double crest, emphatically hooked beak and sinister face, it creates a terrifying impression that might well paralyze its prey.

But Mr. Harpy Eagle uses his talons for killing prey, zooming down with irresistible force upon monkeys and other mammals and birds.

Its claws and powerful legs are said to be unequaled by any other bird of prey.

Small wonder this feathered monarch seldom misses a meal.

Often characterized as the most majestic of its family is the bald or American eagle, a sea eagle that soars in tremendous circles high in the sky.

As it turns, the sun glistens on its snow-white tail and head.

Not really bald, the eagle’s white head, from a distance, merely gives the appearance of baldness.

Typical of eagles, it has wonderfully keen vision, and some observers have credited it with the ability to sight its prey at a distance of three miles.

Scavenger, fisher and pirate 

Picture of a bald eagle with it's catch.

Fish make up a large part of the diet of the bald eagle.

Though waste fish are readily consumed by this bird, it also does fishing for itself.

When so inclined.

It soars above the water and with its keen eyes spots its quarry; then it sets its wings for a long diagonal glide.

As the bird skims the surface of the water, it extends its talons into the water at the right moment and seizes its prey.

What about those stories of eagles robbing henyards and even soaring aloft with human babies and children?

The volume Birds of America says:

 “On rare occasions an eagle has been known to pick up or to destroy a young lamb but these are not common offenses.” 

The late Charles Bromley, who climbed into more than eight hundred eagle nests to band birds for migration studies, only twice found remains of poultry in the nest debris, which was made up mostly of skeletons of thousands of rodents and fish.

Not once did he find a skeleton of a human baby.

In an endeavor to sum up this controversial matter, Frank Lane writes in Nature Parade:

"Controversy has existed for years over the question whether an eagle can carry off a lamb or a child. I think the answer is that a few eagles are capable of the feat, but that it very rarely happens, especially in the case of children. Children have certainly been attacked by eagles. But carrying children off is another matter. It is generally agreed by ornithologists that an eagle is incapable of carrying a weight much in excess of its own, and few eagles weigh more than 12 pounds.” 

Truly the way of an eagle in the heavens is something wonderful. To what great altitude it flies! True kings of the air, eagles whirl, careen and dive over water, along roaring rapids in search of an evening meal; they perch like carved statues in the topmost limits of the tallest tree or upon the tooth of a crag in the wildest country; they soar untiringly in circles high in the sky.