Eagle, a bird of prey belonging to the hawk family. Eagles have hooked beaks, curved claws (called talons), exceptionally keen eyesight, powerful wings, strong bodies, and feathered legs. In mythology the eagle has symbolized the sun. The bird has been used as a symbol of power, courage, and majesty. The Romans believed the eagle to be Jupiter's favorite bird, and it became the emblem of the Roman Empire. American Indians used the eagle as a symbol of the thunderbird, a mythical bird they thought caused thunder and lightning.

The eagleThe eagle is a symbol of power, courage, and majesty.

The eagle is the national emblem of the United States and was used as a symbol by czarist Russia. It appears on either the flag or the coat of arms of Albania, Austria, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Poland, and Spain; and on the flag and seal of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

There are two main groups of eagles: (1) land eagles, which have leg feathers that extend downward to the toes; and (2) sea eagles, or ernes, which have leg feathers extending only halfway to the toes. The most familiar North American eagles are the golden eagle, a land eagle; and the bald eagle, a sea eagle.