Any of many large, heavy-beaked, big-footed birds of prey belonging to the family Accipitridae (order Falconiformes). In general, an eagle is any bird of prey more powerful than a buteo. An eagle may resemble a vulture in build and flight characteristics but has a fully feathered (often crested) head and strong feet equipped with great curved talons. A further difference is in foraging habits: eagles subsist mainly on live prey. They are too ponderous for effective aerial pursuit but try to surprise and overwhelm their prey on the ground. Like owls, many decapitate their kills. Because of their strength, eagles have been a symbol of war and imperial power since Babylonian times.
Eagles are monogamous. They mate for life and use the same nest each year. They tend to nest in inaccessible places, incubating a small clutch of eggs six to eight weeks. The young mature slowly, reaching adult plumage in the third or fourth year.
Copyright 1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica