Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Erne, any species of Haliaetus, a genus of eagle in which the legs are not feathered. There are seven species, almost universally distributed, being absent only from South America. The Common Erne, or White-tailed Eagle (H. albicilla), is a rare British bird found only in the extreme north of the island, though it is widely distributed in the north of Europe and Asia. It is about three feet long, with brown plumage, which is lighter on the head than elsewhere, and in adult birds the tail is white. The White-headed or Bald Eagle (H. leucocephalus), the emblem of the American Union, is slightly smaller than the British species.

Full-grown birds have the head and neck, as well as the tail, white; the rest of the plumage is brown. All the species frequent rocky coasts or wooded ground near inland lakes, feeding on birds and small mammals, like the true eagles, but supplementing the diet with fish, which some species obtain by robbing more expert fishers. This evil propensity in the bald eagle occasioned Franklin's regret that it should have been chosen by his countrymen as the national emblem.