Eagles are birds of prey synonymous with strength, power, and tenacity. They are gracious birds used as national symbols in many countries such as the United States and Japan. In the avian kingdom, eagles can be found at the very top of the food chain. Their ability to adapt to endemic environments has made them very successful birds in terms of hunting down prey and weathering the harshest environmental conditions. These heavily built birds have attracted interest from scientists and researchers who study their unique adaptations and habitats. Below are some of the biggest eagles in the world in terms of total length, wingspan and body mass.
8. Philippine Eagle
The Philippine eagle is the largest and heaviest known eagle. As the name suggests, it is endemic to the rainforests of the Philippines. It is a relatively unknown bird mostly because of its exotic origin and the small wild population. This eagle is currently faced with the danger of extinction due to habitat exploitation. It is endemic to four main islands in the Philippines such as Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, and Leyte. There are between 82-233 mating pairs in the island of Mindanao where a majority of the population is found. It has long, brown feathers on its head which form an impressive mane-like appearance. The Philippine eagle, also known as the great monkey-eating eagle, has a wingspan of between 184-220 cm and a body mass of 4.5kg-8kg. Since July 1995, the Philippine eagle became the national animal of the Philippines. Although considered the largest eagle, it does not have the longest wingspan due to its habitat preferences of thick forests and woodlands which require limited wingspans for maximum maneuver in the condensed spaces.
7. Steller's Sea Eagle
Steller’s sea eagle is one of the largest birds of prey found in the coastal areas of northeastern Asia where its main prey is fish and sea birds. It is a powerful and heavily built bird with bright contrasting colors. It is covered with black feathers for the most part except on the wings in the shoulder area and the legs and lower body which are much brighter. It has a wedge-shaped tail which is longer compared to the white-tailed eagle. The Steller’s body length ranges from 85 cm to 105 cm while the wingspan ranges between 1.95 m to 2.5 m. It has bright yellow beak and talons.
6. Harpy Eagle
The harpy eagle is a powerful bird of prey and one of the largest in the world. It has huge, strong talons that can compare to a bear’s claws and its legs can be as thick as a human’s wrist. With a wingspan of up to 2 meters, it’s a good navigator across Central and South America. The harpy eagle is the national bird of Panama. A long tail, broad and rounded wings allow the harpy eagle to navigate the rainforests of South America. Like many forest raptors, its wings are well adapted to the forest canopy and enable it to dodge through branches. The adult harpy eagle has black feathers on the main body and grey head and neck. It preys on medium sized arboreal mammals such as sloths and monkeys.
5. White-tailed Eagle
The white-tailed eagle is the largest European eagle and has a bright white tail while the rest of the body is almost entirely brown in color. It has a conspicuous head and beak which protrude forward giving it almost a vulture-like profile. The legs, feet, eyes, and beak are yellow. It has a wingspan of 193-244 cm and a length of between 74-92 cm.The white-tailed eagle can be found in a wide range of habitats such as lowlands and close to water bodies. They hunt and prey on a wide variety of mammals, fish, and birds. Fish is the major diet while mammals such as fox, sheep roe deer have been recorded as regular prey.
4. Martial Eagle
The Martial eagle is one of the most impressive African eagles and the largest and most powerful bird of prey in Africa. The martial eagle weighs in at 6.6 kg and has a wingspan of more than 6 feet 4 inches long. It has dark brown upper parts and white belly with black streaks. It has very powerful talons for tearing and holding prey. Its diet is mainly mammalian, preying on small antelopes, domestic goats, hyrax, and lambs. On various occasions, the Martial eagle has been recorded preying on large birds such as the European stork. Its habitat includes the African savannah and thorn bush regions on the south cape. It breeds on the edge of the forest.
3. Australian Wedge-Tailed Eagle
The Australian wedge-tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia and New Guinea. It is also known as bunjil or the Eaglehawk. It has a long wingspan of up to 2.3 meters and the characteristic wedge-shaped tail. The feet are covered with feathers up to the base. It has a pale beak, white feet and dark brown color around the eyes. The bunjil weighs between 3.2 kg and 5.3 kg with the females being heavier than the males. This bird can be found in the sea-level regions and the mountainous regions. It is dominantly found in open lands, wooded and forested landscapes.
2. Golden Eagle
The Golden eagle is the most popular national bird in countries such as Germany, Austria, Mexico, and Albania. It is very common in the Northern hemisphere and the most widely found eagle species. It is the most powerful bird of prey in North America and known for its swiftness and strength. It is dark brown in color with golden brownish color around their necks and head. It feeds on small mammals such as jackrabbits and can sometimes attack large mammals such as lambs, goats and other domestic animals. It has a wingspan of 185-220 cm and weighs between 3.1 kg-6.2 kg. The Golden eagle can be found in open country with natural vegetation which allows it to spot prey easily. They also prefer elevated areas such as mountains, riverside cliffs, and canyonlands. Currently, the Golden eagle population appears to be stable.
1. Haast's Eagle
The Haast’s eagle is currently an extinct species that once lived in the southern islands of New Zealand. It was the largest eagle to have lived during its time and the most ferocious predator in its ecosystem. It had wings that were suited to flapping and maneuvering in the dense forest vegetation. The Haast’s eagle preyed on flightless birds such as moa. This giant eagle weighed up to 17.8 kg and had a wingspan of 3 meters. Due to its large size and the continuous decline of flightless birds, it approached the maximum size limit through evolution, and this ultimately led to its extinction.