A-z - Animals


This post may contain affiliate links to our partners such as Chewy, Amazon, etc. These purchases help us further AZ Animals' mission of educating the world's species.


© AZ-Animals.com

While the iron eagle is the largest species in the United States, the Asian highland condor is the largest species overall.

Eagles are not a specific bird of prey. This is a common name used to describe 270 different types of diurnal predatory birds. These birds all belong to the order Falconiformes and go by many names such as raptor, eagle and vulture.

While each species of eagle has its own unique features, they all share many common traits, such as keen eyesight, hooked beaks, and sharp talons. However, they vary widely in size.

Eagles are deadly assassins who rule the terror of the skies. They dove in, ignited it quickly, and snatched an unsuspecting animal from the ground before it realized what was happening.

Yataka Facts

swainson hawk
Swainson's hawks are long-distance migrants, with nearly the entire population moving from North America to South America during August and September.

©Rob McKay/Shutterstock.com

  1. There are 270 species of eagles, 25 of which are found in the United States
  2. The largest eagle in North America is the Iron Eagle
  3. The most populous species of hawk in the United States is the red-tailed hawk
  4. Red-tailed hawks mate for life
  5. Antarctica is the only place in the world without eagles
  6. Females are 25% to 30% larger than males
  7. a group of hawks known as kettles
  8. Eagles see 5 times better than humans

scientific name

Closeup shot of a sharp eagle against a background of blue sky
Sharp eagles have big eyes.

© RJ Ridley/Shutterstock.com

The eagle's scientific name is Buteo , which describes a medium-sized, widespread bird of prey with a muscular body and broad wings.

They are often called vultures, which is an old term for the species; more recently it has become hawks. In fact, the name Buteo means vulture in Latin.

Each species is different in character and size; here are some species belonging to Buteo :

  • cape verde condor
  • red tailed hawk
  • Socotra condor
  • thick-legged vulture
  • Madeira Condor
  • long-legged vulture
  • prairie vulture
  • iron eagle
  • red-shouldered hawk

common type of hawk

red tailed hawk
Bald eagles and hawks primarily prey on live animals such as rodents and other small mammals.

© Richard G Smith/Shutterstock.com

There are 270 different species of eagles, and for convenience, the most common are listed here:

  • cooper's eagle
  • Harris Hawk
  • red tailed hawk
  • gray eagle
  • northern goshawk
  • big black eagle
  • northern harrier
  • sharp eagle
  • crane hawk
  • common vulture
  • Honey Buzzard
  • broad-winged eagle
  • roadside hawk
  • common black hawk
  • red-shouldered hawk
  • harris hawk
  • thick-legged eagle
  • tailed hawk
  • swainson's eagle
  • short tailed hawk
  • white tailed eagle
  • iron eagle
  • red tailed hawk
  • Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  • sharp eagle
  • kite
  • northern goshawk
  • cooper's eagle
  • red-shouldered hawk
  • common vulture
  • harris hawk
  • osprey
  • broad-winged eagle
  • roadside hawk
  • Kestrel
  • brown falcon
  • white tailed eagle
  • American Kestrel
  • iron eagle
  • thick-legged vulture
  • swainson's eagle
  • northern harrier
  • Crested Honey Buzzard
  • eastern condor
  • crested snake eagle
  • big black eagle
  • Chikla
  • red kite
  • common black hawk
  • Japanese Sparrowhawk
  • gray goshawk
  • savannah eagle
  • Aplomado Falcon
  • gray faced hawk
  • Lanner Falcon
  • crested goshawk
  • hen harrier
  • Prairie Falcon
  • black winged kite
  • Chinese Sparrowhawk
  • black falcon
  • european bee
  • vulture
  • red-footed falcon
  • gorgeous eagle eagle
  • barbary falcon
  • western marsh harrier
  • black breasted vulture
  • white-tailed kite
  • black and white hawk
  • brahmin kite
  • tailed hawk
  • besla


Eagles come in a variety of sizes, with the lightest species being the roadside hawk, which weighs only 9.5 ounces. Their length can reach from 12 to 28 inches, while the eagle's wingspan ranges from 26 to 63 inches.

For example, the white-rumped and Ridgway hawks have a wingspan of 30 inches and an average length of 14 inches.

While the iron eagle is the largest species in the United States, the Asian highland condor is the largest species overall. They are 26 inches long and have a 60 inch wingspan. However, the Iron Eagle weighs the same, but has a larger foot size and bill size. Males are smaller, weighing only 2.5 pounds, while females average 4.4 pounds as adults.

white tailed eagle
Eagles have wingspans ranging from 26 to 63 inches, depending on the species. This is a white tailed eagle.

© iStock.com/Neil Bowman

evolution and origin

After the ancient continent of Gondwana split into these three continents about 100 million years ago, eagles evolved independently in Africa and falcons in South America. It appeared that each site received the diurnal raptors necessary for that habitat.

Theropods were a class of carnivorous dinosaurs from which birds evolved. Even though birds originated from small theropods rather than giants like T. rex, they were still in the same group as dinosaurs. The earliest fossil remains of birds date back 150 million years.

A common bird of prey was discovered during the Eocene epoch, between 500 and 35 million years ago. The earliest known bird of prey dates from the Late Paleocene (57.9 to 54.8 million years ago), and it was probably the New World vulture.


Eagles rule the world and thrive in a variety of climates and environments. The only place on this planet where they don't live is Antarctica. As long as there is prey to eat and a safe place to nest, they can survive.

Most hawk species migrate, but a few don't; in general, if the hawk in question doesn't flock, it means they don't migrate.


what do eagles eat
Eagles eat squirrels, lizards, frogs and rodents.

© AZ-Animals.com

Most raptors are opportunistic hunters and not picky. They'll eat a meal anywhere they can find it, but usually their food of choice is rodents. Unfortunately for hawks, most rodents are nocturnal, so much of their diet consists of diurnal gerbils, squirrels, voles, and chipmunks.

Other prey include:

  • shrew
  • mole
  • pika
  • weasel
  • rabbit
  • Hare
  • marmot
  • small and medium birds
  • snake
  • lizard
  • frog
  • salamander
  • fish
  • various invertebrates

Predators and Threats

Adult eagles generally have few predators. Their sharp beaks and claws are a powerful deterrent, and they can fly away from larger animals.

Eagles are considered apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain in their environment. However, nature is fickle and anything is possible; sometimes predators such as coyotes and foxes will take the opportunity to kill and eat the eagle, but this is rarely the case.

While coyotes and foxes are opportunistic hunters and will eat anything in their path, they do have preferences, and eagles are not one of them. Typically, they cling to smaller mammals such as rabbits, but can also eat grass, fruit, and carcasses.

Sadly, eagle eggs and chicks are frequent targets of owls, large birds of prey, crows, raccoons, porcupines, ravens, and snakes. Therefore, mothers must hide the eggs and babies until they are old enough to protect themselves.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

Like most birds, hawks typically build their nests out of twigs, leaves, and other materials. For hawks that nest in trees, choosing the perfect tree requires a lot of consideration. Eagles need to make sure their tree is big enough or hidden enough that predators that can climb it can't get close.

Most species mate for life or at least a few years; this includes migratory species, which winter in separate pairs.

Eagles can lay 2 to 7 eggs at a time; most of the time, the female will incubate the eggs while the male will be out hunting.

When the eggs hatch, the chicks are completely dependent on their parents for security and food. Their survival depends on the location of their nests, nearby predators, and whether there is human activity such as logging or hunting in the area.

Eggs do not hatch at the same time. There is usually a gap of a day or two which means older, stronger chicks have a better chance of survival as they can fight for food and sometimes kill their smaller siblings by handling them aggressively .

Females spend most of their time with their chicks while males are out hunting. However, the male sometimes broods with the chicks.

When the chicks reach the fledgling stage, the mother takes over most of the hunting. After a few weeks, the chicks realize their parents are indifferent to feeding them. Sometimes they are even hostile to the chicks and they know it is time to leave the nest.

The chicks initially stay close to their old nests, usually within a few miles. Then, after a year or two of independence, they pursue a partner and start a family of their own.

Eagles generally live to be 12 years old; however, in captivity, they age. This is due to predators and environmental threats in the wild.


Because "hawk" is a term used for 270 species, it's difficult to pinpoint their population sizes exactly. Some hawk species, such as the red-tailed hawk, are abundant, while others, such as the ridge hawk, are critically endangered.

For example, there are approximately 1,960,000 nesting red-tailed hawks worldwide, and 90 percent of their population calls North America home.

Difference Between Hawks and Eagles

Both eagles and hawks belong to the eagle family and share many similar characteristics, which is why they can be difficult to tell apart.

A striking difference is not their appearance, but their numbers, as there are only about 60 species of eagles compared to 270 different species.

Both genera are native to:

  • grassland
  • forest
  • alpine meadow
  • desert
  • coastal area
  • suburbs and urban areas

Additionally, they are all diurnal, meaning they are mainly active during the day. Because they occur in different habitats, they do differ in diet and other aspects.


Generally, hawks are larger compared to hawks, weighing around 18 pounds, while even the largest species of hawk weighs only 8 pounds.

However, there are exceptions; for example, the red-tailed hawk is larger than the Australian kitty, weighing only 1.8 pounds.

Eagles are generally stronger than hawks because they have more muscular bodies, powerful legs, hooked beaks, and curved talons. In fact, their hind claws are very strong, which helps them grab and carry heavy prey.

Eagles also have hooked beaks and sharp talons, but not as large as eagles. Additionally, both species have partial feathers on their legs.


There is a significant difference between the wingspan of a hawk and a hawk, with hawks typically reaching 8 feet and hawks less than 5 feet. But, surprisingly, hawks soar much longer than hawks.


Coloration varies between the two genera, but hawks are usually a mixture of blond, brown, and black-gray plumage, with yellow or light-colored beaks.

Eagles, on the other hand, are usually a mixture of reddish-brown and gray with white plumage on the belly and breast. Additionally, they have dark beaks.


While both genera have excellent eyesight, which is a great help in spotting prey, their hunting techniques differ slightly. Eagles soar until they swoop down on their prey in mid-air, grabbing the prey in their talons and carrying it to the nearest perch. Once settled, the hawks start tearing up their prey.

Eagles are more strategic when hunting, often hiding in trees until the opportunity presents itself. Then, as soon as their prey come within sight, they swoop down and snatch them up before they realize what's going on.


Prey within each genus varies widely in size. Eagles typically prey on large animals such as medium-sized vertebrates, snakes, birds, large fish, and various mammals.

Although hawks will sometimes hunt larger animals, they tend to clung to the following animals:

  • mouse
  • mouse
  • Gophers
  • rabbit
  • large insects


An eagle makes a high-pitched screech while a hawk's call is a subtle screech.


In terms of the number of eggs laid, eagles reproduce more than hawks. They usually lay 2 to 7 eggs at a time, and they build nests on hills, cliffs, trees and, depending on the species, on the ground.

Eagles usually lay 2 eggs at a time and build their nests in tall trees or cliffs. Chicks compete fiercely, with older or larger chicks often killing their siblings for more food.

Difference Between Eagle and Falcon Compare the Difference Between Similar Terms

Many people think that the only way to tell the difference between a hawk and a falcon is by size alone, but that's not the case. Usually falcons are smaller than hawks; however, members of the two genera may vary in size.

So size isn't the only way to tell them apart. Also, it can be difficult to judge the size of birds when they are in flight. Instead, there are other characters that set them apart.


The shape of their wings is the clearest way of distinguishing the two birds. Eagle wings are wider than their bodies and end in rounded tips, while falcon wings are long and thin and end in points.

Additionally, larger hawks, such as the ferrous hawk, have defined, separated feathers on their wingtips that help them maneuver better. While the Falcon has an impressive aerodynamic profile, it's built more for speed than precision.

airplane mode

Watching flight patterns is another good way to tell the two raptors apart. Falcons have narrower wings, so they have to flap their wings faster, with short glides in between.

Because eagles have wider wings with a greater proportion of surface area, they don't need to flap their wings as often and glide more often.


If these birds are flightless, you can tell them apart by their heads. Eagles have a pointed and rounded head, while falcons usually have rounded and short heads.

Those with an eye for detail can tell the two species apart by the hawk's long tail and the falcon's prominent facial markings; however, these identifiers are less reliable. Furthermore, these distinguishing features can be misleading, so they should always be distinguished from other information and observations.


Most zoos have some type of eagle. The most popular species in the United States is the red-tailed hawk, and you can find them at the following zoos:

  • maryland zoo
  • san diego zoo
  • Seneca Zoo
  • Bronx Zoo
  • Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
  • oregon zoo

See all 104 animals that start with H

Yes, the eagle is not a specific bird of prey. This is a common name used to describe 270 different types of diurnal predatory birds. These birds all belong to the order Falconiformes and go by many names such as raptor, eagle and vulture.

Each species is different in character and size; here are a few species that are birds of prey: Cape Verde vulture, red-tailed hawk, Socotra vulture, and thick-legged vulture.

There are 270 species of eagles, 25 of which are found in the United States.

The eagle is a popular symbol of freedom and hope. Seeing an eagle symbolizes being creative and you should express yourself through art.