The bald eagle is one of only two species of eagle found in North America.
An eagle is a large bird of prey known for having broad wings and strong flying skills. They are native to every continent in the world except Antarctica. There are over 60 species, most of them found in Europe, Asia and Africa. Like many birds of prey, they are highly adaptable and can survive in a wide variety of ecosystems. Most are grouped by species based on similar traits; these groups include serpent eagles, hawk eagles, golden eagles, and sea eagles.
There are over 60 species of eagles, and most of them are found in Europe, Asia and Africa, while the bald eagle resides in North America.
Serpent eagles are native to Asia and Africa. They constitute a dozen species known to hunt snakes and reptiles. They and all species have keen eyesight; powerful claws and beaks; and fast and silent flight. All are qualities that make them effective hunters. Serpent eagles are not as large as some other types, but they are still larger than most other birds.
Hawk eagles are not hawks. They are birds thought to resemble hawks. They populate tropical regions, mainly in Central and South America, but also in Asia and Africa. They can be distinguished by their prominent head crests. Although most are medium in size, the group includes the crowned eagle and the martial eagle, two of the largest species. Martial eagles can have a wingspan of 8 feet (2.4 meters) or more.
So-called true eagles include the golden eagle, spotted eagle and yellow eagle, all found in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. A notable long-lost relative was the New Zealand Haast’s eagle. Although they died out in the 1400s, Haast’s eagles were the largest known species. They weighed from 20 pounds to 30 pounds (9 kg to 13.4 kg) each and could attack prey with the force of a wrecking ball.
Sea eagles include some of the largest species still extant, including Asia’s Steller’s sea eagle. These birds are mostly found near large bodies of water and live on fish and waterfowl. They are among the oldest eagles; Paleontological evidence suggests that similar birds existed at least 12 million years ago, and possibly as much as 20 million years before that. The bald eagle is part of this family.
The bald eagle has long been a national symbol of the United States, but it is one of only two species of eagle found on the North American continent. This species was nearly driven to extinction in the mid-20th century by pesticide use and human development in its habitats. Conservation efforts have paid off and bald eagle populations have increased, especially in Alaska. The bird was removed from the United States’ endangered species list in 2007.