National Geographic : 1933 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by David T. Griggs YOUNG EAGLES TAKE OFF FROM THEIR NEST IN ALASKA In three years these birds will perfect their Eagles are not popular with Alaska fishermen, up streams to spawn. circles high above the earth, where they are conspicuous and are visible for long distances. Some of the species of this family are among the largest of flying birds. FALCONS CAPABLE OF SWIFT FLIGHT The falcons, with their relatives the caracaras, the family Falconidae (Plates XIV, XV, XVI), in general are smaller in size than the members of the other group of hawks, and have longer, more pointed wings, which give them swifter flight that may be maintained at high speed for long distances. Though some, such as the chimangos, or carrion hawks, and the caracaras, may be in part carrion feeders, the majority, the true falcons, are fiercely predatory hunters, in the true sense of the word, whose appearance strikes terror among other birds. The bill of the falcons, sharply pointed at the tip, has a project ing tooth on the margin that is of assist ance in tearing their food. The New World vultures, family Ca thartidae (Plates I and II), although plumage and they may live to be centenarians. for they take heavy toll of the salmon going hawklike in form of body and spread of wings, have relatively weak legs and feet which are not used to seize or carry prey. Their beaks, though strong, are not prom inently hooked, and except for their flying muscles these birds are far less powerful than their relatives. These are the scavengers among birds, for whom no food is too repulsive, that spend their days in scanning the surface of the earth for dead creatures on which they may feast. They are confined to the Americas, the carrion-eating vultures of other lands belonging to the Accipitridae. The secretary bird, the only living spe cies in the fourth family, Sagittariidae, one of the most remarkable birds of the entire order, stands nearly four feet high, having long, slender legs like those of a heron. Though it has strong wings, it ordinarily runs on the ground, traveling at need with great swiftness. It is found only in Africa, from the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and Senegambia to Cape of Good Hope Province. It feeds on snakes, lizards, and various other animals, often killing them by stamping on them with its feet.