Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Title: The Encyclopedia Americana: a library of universal knowledge, Volume 9. The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge. Publisher: Encyclopedia Americana Corp., 1918. Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: Aug 29, 2007.

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EAGLE, as a popular name, includes several raptorial birds which vary in some respects from the strictly defined group in which science has been wont to place it. The order Accipitres, to which it belongs, is broad enough in definition to include all the vultures, the typical eagles, and the buzzards. Recent osteológical demonstrations, however, have led to the separation of American vultures from the Old World vultures, including the latter in the family Falconidœ, to which eagles and vultures belong.

This family, which embraces 300 species of diurnal raptores, is characterized by imperforate nostrils, legs of medium length, and, except in the Old World vultures, a feathered head, a bill decidedly hooked, the hind toe inserted on a level with the three front ones, and the claws roundly curved and sharp. The sub-family Aquilina; makes prominent the cutting edge of the upper mandible, the bony shield over the eye, the feet heavy and short, either scutellate or feathered. The Läm

mergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), lamb-killer, or bearded vulture of the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Himalayas, finds its nearest affinity here. The Aquilina: are naturally divided into two genera: Aquila, land eagles, and Haliacttis, seafishing eagles. The former is feathered to the toes, the latter half way to the toes.

The leading specimen of Aquila is the golden eagle (A. chrysaetus) one of the largest and most magnificent of its kind, dark brown with purple gloss ; head and neck brownishyellow ; tail rounded and dark brown, ending in light and dark tints. The length is about three feet, the extent of wing seven feet. In North America its range is from Mexico north. It is very scarce in the United States but more abundant in Canada, where it is distinguished as canadensis.

It is regarded as a variety of the European species, which seldom occurs in England, though more prevalent in Scotland, where the demand for its eggs has favored its increase. The nest is usually placed on some inaccessible cliff, the eggs are spotted and do not exceed three. Closely allied to the golden eagle are the imperial eagle (A. mogilmk) of southwestern Europe and of Asia, and the king eagle (A. hiliaca) of the same range. The smallest of the kind is the dwarf eagle. (A. pennata) which measures less than two feet and is native in Southern Europe, North Africa and in India.

First in interest among the sea-eagles stands the bald-headed eagle (Haliaetus Irucocephalus), selected as the national emblem of the United States. Its markings are familiar, though the term "bald" is to be referred not to the absence of feathers, but to the effect produced by the white feathers on the head. In size, it corresponds nearly to the golden eagle, but it differs in its habits, living mainly upon the fish which it seizes along the sea-shore and around lakes and rivers.

The nest is built on a high tree top or upon a rocky cliff. A finer specimen than this is the northern seaeagle (Haliaetus pelagicus) of northeastern Asia. It is conspicuous by its large form and bill, and by the contrast of its main color, brown, with the white of its shoulders, rump and tail. The African sea-eagle (H. vocifcr) is a fish-eater, about half the size of the "baldhead," remarkable for its color-markings, being white on the head, neck and breast, while the under parts and wing coverts are chestnut, and the upper parts are black or brown.

Nearly related to the Ha'iactus is the fishing-eagle (Poliooetus ichlhycctus) of India and the East Indies, with extremely curved talons, and living entirely on fish. In countries bordering on the Mediterranean and ranging into India and Central Europe, is the serpent-eagle (Circaetus gallicus) with short toes, white, brown-spotted under parts, and dark brown upper parts. It feeds upon reptiles, which it kills and carries away, not eating the game on the spot, as do other eagles. A buzzardlike genus, Hclotarsus, is represented in Southern Africa by H. ecaudatus, the short-tailed eagle, oramcnted with maroon and black plumage, and bright red, very short legs.

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