White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) catching a fish.—© Mary Plage/Bruce Coleman Ltd.

Any of many large, heavy-beaked, big-footed birds of prey belonging to the family Accipitridae, found worldwide. Eagles are generally larger and more powerful than hawks and may resemble a vulture in build and flight characteristics, but they have a fully feathered (often crested) head and strong feet equipped with great curved talons. Most species subsist mainly on live prey, which they generally capture on the ground. Eagles have been a symbol of war and imperial power since Babylonian times. They mate for life. They nest in inaccessible places and use the same nest each year. Species vary from 24 in. to 3.3 ft (60 cm–1 m) long. The sea eagles include the bald eagle. See also golden eagle.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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