There are seven types of eagles found in Israel today (four common species and three rare species). They are the White-tailed eagle, the Imperial eagle, the Lesser and Greater spotted eagles, the Steppe eagle, the Booted eagle and Bonelli’s eagle.

In the past, Bonelli’s eagle was the most common eagle to be found in Israel and pairs of them could be found in every rocky wadi in the Carmel, Galilee, and Judean Hills. However, with the increasing use of pesticides, most of them have been eliminated and, today, there remain very few nesting pairs. They are able to fly at very high speeds, reaching as much as 200kmh, as they wheel and dive after their prey. They feed mainly on partridges, rock doves, and hares. The female lays two eggs on which she sits for 42 days.

In the Scriptures, the symbol of the eagle is used to describe God’s protection of His people (Exod 19:4; Deut 32:10-11) as well as His judgment against His people (Deut 28:49; Prov 30:17; Hos 8:1). Its rapid attacks on the hapless prey became metaphors for swift warriors charging into battle (2 Sam 1:23) as well as a picture of illusive wealth that takes flight and disappears so quickly (Prov 23:5). Dwelling on high, out of reach, it also symbolised proud nations like Edom, who thought that they could dwell securely in their fortresses (Jer 49:16; Obad 1:4).

But it also represented the righteous renewing their strength in God (Isa 40:31; Psa 103:5). Hence, in Ezekiel 1:10, one of the four faces of the cherubim was that of an eagle. Its keen eyesight and ability to soar across the heavens made it an apt symbol of God’s power (Job 39:27-30).