Eagles Eagles

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Genus Species
More than 60 species

Fast Facts

Most eagles are large in size, 60 to 90 cm (24 to 36 in.) in length with a 1.8 m (6 ft.) wingspan. The American harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) is the largest of all the eagles, with length of 110 cm (43.5 in.) and a 2.4 m (8 ft.) wingspan.
Varies with type of eagle; can include reptiles, fishes, birds, small to medium sized mammals, and some even feed on carrion
Life Span
Varies with species; both the bald eagle and the golden eagle may survive 30 or more years
Eagles can be found across most major land areas except Antarctica and New Zealand
Varies by species.
IUCN: 10 species Vulnerable; 4 species Endangered; 2 species Critically Endangered
CITES: Many species listed
USFWS: Many species listed; 3 species as Critically Endangered and 1 species as Endangered

Fun Facts

Eagles are often further divided into four categories depending on diet and physical features. Some examples include:

  • true or booted eagles – "booted" is a reference to the leg feathers, which extend all the way down to the toes. Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are a type of true or booted eagle.
  • harpy eagles – the six types of harpy eagles can be identified by the crests on their heads.
  • fish eagles – diet is mainly fish. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are a type of fish eagle, but their diet also consists of birds and small mammals. In addition, bald eagles are scavengers that harass other birds and steal their fish.
  • snake eagles – diet includes a variety of snakes. Bateleur eagles (Terathopius ecuadatus) are snake eagless

For more information about raptors, explore the Raptors InfoBook.

Ecology and Conservation

Benjamin Franklin was opposed to the idea of choosing the bald eagle as the national bird of the United States, possibly because of their scavenging nature. Franklin favored the wild turkey instead. Despite his argument that the wild turkey was more important to American settlers, the bald eagle was declared the national bird of the United States in 1782. But human activities such as pesticide contamination and hunting caused a severe decline in its numbers. Although protected by several laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the bald eagle faced extinction. Finally, the trends were reversed, the populations recovered, and the bald eagle was officially removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999.


Brown, L. and D. Amadon. Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of the World. New Jersey: Wellfleet Press, 1989.

Lee, G.. "Bald Eeagle Soars Off Endangered List". The Tampa Tribune, June 30, 1994.

Savage, C.. Eagles of North America. Wisconsin: Northwood Press, 1987.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  "Bald Eagle: Hope Flies to Freedom from Near". Hadley, Mass: PR Newswire, June 30, 1994.

birdlife.org/datazone/search/species_search.html. Accessed 13 March 2020.