In Britain before 1678, Eagle referred specifically to the Golden Eagle, the other native species, the White-tailed Eagle, being known as the Erne. The modern name for Aquila chrysaetos was introduced by the naturalist John Ray.
Eagles appear prominently in myth and literature. In the Old World, such references are commonly to the Golden Eagle (or possibly closely related species found in warm climates).
The eagle has been used by many nations as a national symbol, depicting power, beauty and independence. The Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt used it as their seal, while the Romans used it on the standards of their armies.
It is also part of the coat of arms of Romania and the coat of arms and flag of Moldova. It is the emblem of "Shqipėria" or Land of the Eagles, which is known in English as Albania.
The United States has adopted the North American Bald Eagle as its national emblem. Although the Golden Eagle is found in North America, U.S. references to an unspecified "eagle" are often to the Bald Eagle.
Like all birds of prey, eagles have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs and powerful talons. They also have extremely keen eyesight to enable them to spot potential prey from a distance. This keen eyesight is primarily contributed by their extremely large pupils which cause minimal diffraction (spreading) of the incoming light.