Haedong eagle

From Themys Project
A colorized photo of the Haedong eagle dating back to the early 16th century AC, in southeastern Bukhae Province.

The Haedong eagle (Zhenian: 해동독수리) is a large diurnal and maritime bird of prey belonging to the Accipitridae family and primarily found in the coasts of northern Zhenia and the Haedong Islands. A migrant bird dependent on seasons, its range includes most of the Zhenian coastline facing the North Zhenian Sea as well as adjoining areas of northeastern Tarsis and northwestern Veharia facing the Hanmaric Ocean. It is considered one of the largest birds found in Zhenia alongside the Daeseo vulture and the Jinshan eagle found in central and western Zhenia, while it remains the heaviest sea eagle species found along the coasts of Zhenia, with an average weight of an adult eagle at around 7-9 kilograms.

Generally found near large bodies of water, both still and flowing, with abundant food supply and sizable trees, the Haedong eagle is an opportunistic feeder primarily subsisting on fish, although it could occasionally subsist on small land rodents and mammals in certain circumstances. It swoops down on a unique glide-and-dive spiral towards the surface and snatches its prey with its talons. It can breed at the median age of four and has an average lifespan of around 18 years.

Once a commonly-sighted bird of prey in the North Zhenian Sea and the North Hanmaric Ocean in general, its numbers have diminished considerably since the 15th century AC due to widespread habitat destruction, lead poisoning, poaching and increased human activity along the coast. Extensive conservation efforts, primarily driven by the Gwangseong National Zoo and the CIT Biological Diversity Institute as well as the support of the Jungchuwon, have resulted in a significant rebound of the wild population. While it is no longer categorized as a critically endangered species, it remains to be an endangered species by the Zhenian government.

Description

Size

Plumage

Distribution and habitat

Diet

Reproduction and lifespan

Relationship with humans

Pre-modern interaction

Conservation

Cultural significance

The Haedong eagle is culturally considered a sacred bird by Yemeg and Haedong Zhenians in northeastern Zhenia, frequently appearing in their mythology and faiths as messengers from the heavens and the sea. This trend becomes stronger when one is closer to the coast, where the Haedong eagles are elevated to the point of being incarnations of the gods. It became the subject of worship among local Yemeg and Haedong Zhenians, with the entrances to many coastal towns often being decorated with totem poles depicting the Haedong eagle on top of it. In many local religious and spiritual traditions, it is considered a sin to kill or harm the Haedong eagle, as the bird was often equalized to the gods in numerous contexts. Some branches of the Yemeg and Haedong have considered carrying and adorning oneself with symbols from the Haedong eagle - most notably its feathers and talons - as a status symbol reserved for the most noble members of their communities: this is further supported by the fact that adornments made from Haedong eagle feathers and talons are often found alongside tombs of noble Yemeg and Haedong leaders.

The sacred views towards the Haedong eagle proliferated outside the Yemeg and Haedong people later on, particularly when seamen under the command of Chang Munmu put the eagle on their flags to identify with one another. The maritime flags with Haedong eagles upon them have been integrated into the Zhenian maritime flag signal network, with the flag specifically meaning 'a desire to communicate'. It is also claimed that the custom of considering the sighting of the Haedong eagle prior to leaving port a good omen for the voyage ahead - a custom still existent today - dates back to the era of Chang Munmu.

The Haedong eagle is said to have been one of the inspirations for the Phoenix of the East that appears on the Emblem of Zhenia, with claims that the phoenix's overall appearance and white tail comes from the Haedong eagle. Although ultimately rejected in favor of the Jinshan eagle, the Haedong eagle was at one point considered as the national bird of the Republic of Zhenia.

See also