Awesome fearsome Eagles rule the sky

(No.4, Vol.3, May 2013 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

A young eagle caught by a hunter on Ba Mount, Binh Thuan Province, South Central Vietnam, 2009. The hunter says the eagle could sell for nearly $100.

Đại bàng (Eagle) or chim ưng is a large raptor which belongs to the Falconiformes order. They often live on high mountains and in forests with big trees. Usually, eagles build their nests on craggy mountain cliffs or on the tops of lofty trees. Their nests are very big, and each year, they renovate them by adding new branches so the nests will become bigger and taller. The bald eagle or American eagle’s nest can be up to 3m wide, 6m high and weigh up to several tons.
The eagle’s wings are long and broad, and their wingspan can be from 1.5 to 2m long. They can glide for long distances. They use their feet for hunting, building nests and raising their chicks. The biggest species of eagle has a body over 1m in length and weighs 7kg. The female bird is usually bigger than the male, so they can always hunt bigger prey.
The eagle can do many seemingly miraculous things because of their unique eyes. Eagle eyes are as big and as heavy as human eyes. But the backs of their eyes are flatter and wider than ours, creating for the eagle a much larger visual field. At the distance of 2m, human eyes can detect an ant. For eagle, that distance would be 30m and at the distance of 1600m, an eagle can see a rat.
The eagle has very sharp claws, which make it easy for them to catch prey, whether fish swimming in the water or other birds flying.
When an eagle spots potential prey, they will fold their wings and dive. The sound of their wings tearing through the air at 250 k/ph is perfect for frightening the prey out of cover.
A pair of eagles needs 50km2 of forest area to hunt for a living for its family. In the first months, when the chick can only move from branch to branch, it will follow its mother to observe her hunting. After 12 months, the chick will “move out” and fend for itself.
‘The King of the Sky’ is afraid of one bird, the drongo. In the middle of the hunt, if the eagle comes into the territory of the drongo, it can only beat a hasty retreat. The drongo, a small black-coloured bird, is famous for its seemingly insane tendency to attack other, larger birds.
*Le Hoai Phuong is a freelance animal researcher

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