Eagles
 

The eagle is one the largest and most powerful birds of prey. Soaring high above the earth, spying its prey with its keen eyes, the eagle presents a majestic picture. Eagles are notable for their powerful set of eyes. Even though their eyes are just slightly larger than human eyes, they can see up to 3½ times better than a person with perfect vision. An eagle can see a moving rabbit from a mile away, and can see a fellow eagle soaring 50 miles away!

There are several species of eagles, which differ in size, looks and habits. But all eagles have large, strong bills and powerful claws, or talons. The bird usually builds its nest (called an "eyrie")in a remote place such as a high cliff where it cannot be disturbed. If it chooses to build in a tree, it will choose a spot that is 50-150 feet above ground. The nest is built of sticks and is used year after year.

 

Be Kind: The eagle is the symbol of mercy (rachamim) in Jewish thought. Even though the eagle is a bird of prey and it needs to eat small animals to survive, it is kind at heart, and the bird will always prefer to feed on dead animals if any can be found.

Naturalists are amazed by the delicate and gentle consideration an eagle will show to its children, or eaglets. For example, a mother eagle arrives at its nest with a noisy swoosh of wings, but it will land very slowly and gently on the edge of the eyrie without disturbing the sleeping eaglets.

We should learn to be compassionate to all creatures, even if they have done nothing to deserve it.

The eagle’s unique combination of sensitivity and strength is the essence of mercy: mercy is not blind love, but a perfect blend of both love and justice. Ask your child, “Where do you think it is appropriate to use compassion and where it is appropriate to be tough?”




Rabbi Judah Ben Tema, one of the contributors to the Mishna (completed in 200 CE) said, “Be light as an eagle … to do the will of our Father in Heaven.” This quote was chosen as the opening words of the Jewish Code of Law. Here are some ways we can emulate an eagle’s flight:

Swerve: Just like an eagle can swerve sharply to circumvent obstacles, so should a person avoid negative thoughts or actions that may come his way.

Spiral: Eagles catch rising masses of warm air, or thermals, to carry them in a spiral manner high into the sky. Eventually they can reach an altitude of 10,000 feet or more. By reviewing our studies over and over and “circling” over the material, we can reach great heights.

Soar: The eagle is a large bird, up to 3 feet tall, but its large wings enable it to soar into the heavens. By nature, our physical body resists any attempt to refine it, but with the right wings we can soar to the highest spiritual levels. These wings are love and awe of G-d.

 
 

 

Listen to the call of a soaring eagle

Watch a video of Eagles

 



An eagle has a wingspan of up 7 feet. Its 7,000 feathers weigh about twice as much as its skeleton!

For blinking, eagles have a translucent inner eyelid, or nictitating membrane. Every 3-4 seconds the membrane slides across the eye side to side, wiping away dirt and dust. The “bald eagle,” one of the most well-known eagles and the national emblem of the United States, can close its inner eyelid and then, when necessary, can look directly at the sun to spot its prey.

An eagle’s nest, or eyrie, is a huge mass of sticks, lined inside with softer material for the benefit of the young. It is repaired every year with additional sticks until it eventually becomes a heavy structure weighing more than a ton! One eyrie in Florida measured 10 feet wide and 20 feet high. Another in Ohio contained two tons of material when a storm knocked down the tree that held it for 35 years.

A pair of eagles are faithful to each other. They stay together year after year and return to the same nest each season.

In captivity eagles have lived up to 48 years, but some estimate that in the wild where life is tougher, they live less than 10 years.

Although the biblical nesher is commonly translated as eagle, according to some authorities it refers to the griffon-vulture. The griffon-vulture is a bird with a 10-foot wingspan, and is considered today to be the highest flying bird. On November 29, 1975 one was sucked into a jet engine 37,900 feet above the Ivory Coast in West Africa.

Parent's Tip: Tell your child that the eagle can see three-four times as clearly as a person with perfect vision. Even when it is flying high in the sky, it can see little fish swimming underwater! Also, even when an eagle blinks, the membrane that closes over its eye is transparent – so the eagle can see while blinking too! How would your child’s life be different if he could see like an eagle?

 

Even though the eagle is a non-Kosher bird, he is mentioned frequently in the Torah in various symbolic ways.

Describing the manner in which G-d brought the Jewish people out of Egypt, G-d says “I carried you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Me.”

”The eagle,” our Sages explain, “acts differently than other birds. Other birds carry their young in their feet for fear of a stronger bird that might swoop down upon them. But the eagle fears only man who might shoot an arrow from below; therefore he carries his young on his wings, in order to shield them with his own body.” (Midrash)

So to, G-d led the Jews from Egypt with loving care and protection. When they were pursued by the Egyptians, G-d protected them with the “Pillar of Cloud” which absorbed all the arrows which the Egyptians shot at them.


Eagles help ranchers by controlling the number of rabbits and rodents -- animals that compete with livestock for pasture.