Two adult Steller's sea-eagles raise their heads to utter their deep cackling call, while a third looks on (David Tipling)
List 10 March 2019

Photo gallery: 18 breathtaking images of eagles in the wild

Eagles have always been a symbol of pride, strength, power and independence. With these stunning images of eagles around the world from Mike Unwin and David Tipling's latest book, it's easy to see why...

Hunters of the uplands 

This immature black-and-chestnut eagle, close to fledgling, shows significantly paler plumage than that of the parent (Minden Pictures/Alamy Stock Photo)

This immature black-and-chestnut eagle, close to fledgling, shows significantly paler plumage than that of the parent (Minden Pictures/Alamy Stock Photo)

The golden eagle derives its name from the colour of its long nape feathers (© David Tipling)

The golden eagle derives its name from the colour of its long nape feathers (© David Tipling)

My first eagle was a golden. I was seven years old, enjoying a summer holiday in the Scottish Highlands. My father spotted the bird cresting a ridge high above our picnic site. A mobbing common buzzard, just half its size, provided instant scale. Unfazed by its tormentor, the eagle continued its long, gliding trajectory, as though on an invisible zip line to the horizon, leaving the common buzzard circling aimlessly over our heads.
I was hooked.

— Mike Unwin

Predators of the plains

An adult martial eagle is one of the most fearsome, known for being aggressive (Steve Holroyd/Alamy Stock Photo)

An adult martial eagle is one of the most fearsome, known for being aggressive (Steve Holroyd/Alamy Stock Photo)

The wedge-tailed eagle is the largest raptor of Australasia and a close relative of the northern hemisphere's Golden Eagle (Manfred Gottschalk/Alamy Stock Photo)

The wedge-tailed eagle is the largest raptor of Australasia and a close relative of the northern hemisphere's Golden Eagle (Manfred Gottschalk/Alamy Stock Photo)

Australian handgliders beware! Not for nothing does the country's largest bird of prey bear the scientific name audax — 'bold'... Videos show drones and model aircraft being ripped from the sky, and this is the only bird of prey recorded as having attacked hang gliders and paragliders — tearing the fabric with its massive talons.

— Mike Unwin

A martial eagle uses lethal talons to subdue the struggles of a Nile monitor lizard (Photononstop/Alamy Stock Photo)

A martial eagle uses lethal talons to subdue the struggles of a Nile monitor lizard (Photononstop/Alamy Stock Photo)

An immature eastern imperial eagle spending winter in the Hungarian lowlands perches on a hay bale (John Gooday/Alamy Stock Photo)

An immature eastern imperial eagle spending winter in the Hungarian lowlands perches on a hay bale (John Gooday/Alamy Stock Photo)

This impressive eagle was once the proud emblem of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy — hence its royal name. Back in the nineteenth century, its heraldic profile would have been a familiar site across Eastern and Central Europe. Today, however, it has disappeared from many of those former haunts... In Central and Eastern Europe, the Eastern Imperial Eagle breeds in woodlands, steppe, and farmland up to 3,280 feet, though it has been pushed to higher altitudes by persecution and habitat loss in its former lowland homes.

— Mike Unwin

An adult bateleur (left) perched next to an immature (right) in South Africa's Kruger National Park, showing that although the two differ greatly in plumage, they share the same characteristic shape of large head, long wings, and short tail (blickwinkel/Alamy Stock Photo)

An adult bateleur (left) perched next to an immature (right) in South Africa's Kruger National Park, showing that although the two differ greatly in plumage, they share the same characteristic shape of large head, long wings, and short tail (blickwinkel/Alamy Stock Photo)

Assassins of the woodlands

The changeable hawk-eagle is a typical woodland species, finding prey both among the trees and in the surrounding open country (Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo)

The changeable hawk-eagle is a typical woodland species, finding prey both among the trees and in the surrounding open country (Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo)

The booted eagle is one of the smallest of all eagles (BIOSPHOTO/Alamy Stock Photo)

The booted eagle is one of the smallest of all eagles (BIOSPHOTO/Alamy Stock Photo)

Deep in a Spanish cork oak the feathers of a jay flash brilliant blue among the leaf litter. Just above them — perched on an old, gnarled stump — is the killer, still methodically plucking its victim. It's a Booted Eagle. No larger than a common buzzard, this is Europe's smallest eagle and one of the smallest worldwide. Yet that fierce glare, as it looks up from its task, shows that size isn't everything. A dashing predator, it strikes terror into these Mediterranean woodlands, hurtling from the sky to capture prey as large as itself.

— Mike Unwin

An immature greater spotted eagle takes flight in Salalah, Dhofar, Oman (Saverio Gatto/Alamy Stock Photo)

An immature greater spotted eagle takes flight in Salalah, Dhofar, Oman (Saverio Gatto/Alamy Stock Photo)

Raptors of the rain forest 

The harpy eagle is probably the world's most powerful avian predator, with talons longer than the claws of a grizzly bear (David Tipling)

The harpy eagle is probably the world's most powerful avian predator, with talons longer than the claws of a grizzly bear (David Tipling)

One of the smallest eagles, Wallace's hawk-eagle weighs no more than a large pigeon (Minden Pictures/Alamy Stock Photo)

One of the smallest eagles, Wallace's hawk-eagle weighs no more than a large pigeon (Minden Pictures/Alamy Stock Photo)

Like the peregrine falcon, which its face resembles, the rufous-bellied hawk-eagle often captures prey in fast aerial pursuit (Minden Pictures/Alamy Stock Photo)

Like the peregrine falcon, which its face resembles, the rufous-bellied hawk-eagle often captures prey in fast aerial pursuit (Minden Pictures/Alamy Stock Photo)

Wings over the water

 

 

Feathers fly, as a Steller's sea-eagle grapples with two White-tailed Sea-eagles for possession of a fish (David Tipling)

Feathers fly, as a Steller's sea-eagle grapples with two White-tailed Sea-eagles for possession of a fish (David Tipling)

This versatile predator takes a wide range of water birds... Inland, it also takes terrestrial birds, such as grouse, ravens, and owls, as well as various mammals, from hares and voles to Arctic foxes and domestic dogs. It will even carry off seal pups: claims of victims weighing 20 pounds would, if true, represent the greatest load-carrying known in any bird. Like other sea-eagles, this species is not above scavenging: many wintering birds in Japan subsist on Sika deer carcasses. It will also steal food from other eagles and subordinates of its own species.

— Mike Unwin

Two adult Steller's Sea-eagles raise their heads to utter their deep cackling call, while a third looks on (David Tipling)

Two adult Steller's Sea-eagles raise their heads to utter their deep cackling call, while a third looks on (David Tipling)

Few creatures are more emblematic than the bald eagle, known worldwide as the national bird of the United States (David Tipling)

Few creatures are more emblematic than the bald eagle, known worldwide as the national bird of the United States (David Tipling)

The bald eagle is one of the world's best-known birds. Ever since 1782, when Congress incorporated the eagle's image into the Great Seal of the United States, it has been emblematic of that nation. Long before, it was also revered in Native American cultures, seen as a spiritual intermediary between humans and the gods. Despite this, the 1950s saw the bird heading towards extinction. Its subsequent reversal of fortune has been a conservation success story.

— Mike Unwin

An African fish-eagle takes flight with a bream, plucked from the surface of Botswana's Chobe River (Westend61 GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo)

An African fish-eagle takes flight with a bream, plucked from the surface of Botswana's Chobe River (Westend61 GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo)

The Empire of the Eagle: An Illustrated Natural History, by Mike Unwin and David Tipling, is published by Yale University Press.

The Empire of the Eagle: An Illustrated Natural History, by Mike Unwin and David Tipling, is published by Yale University Press.

This book, unlike any previous volume, encompasses each of the world’s 68 currently recognised eagle species, from the huge Steller’s sea-eagle that soars above Japan’s winter ice floes to the diminutive little eagle that hunts over the Australian outback. Mike Unwin’s vivid and authoritative descriptions combined with stunning photographs taken or curated by David Tipling deliver a fascinating and awe-inspiring volume.  

Featuring chapters organised by habitat, the book investigates the lifestyle and unique adaptations of each eagle species, as well as the significance of eagles in world cultures and the threats they face from humans. 

Mike Unwin is a celebrated wildlife and travel writer, known for his books and journalism. Also a photographer, illustrator, and popular speaker, he lives in Brighton, UK. 

David Tipling is renowned for his wildlife photographs and writings and is co-author of the critically acclaimed Birds & People. He lives in Norfolk, UK.

Check out the book on Amazon now