Artist: John Megahan
In the simplest terms, the Haast’s Eagle is in essence, a giant eagle, and one that focused upon hunting only the largest prey available to prehistoric New Zealand: the large flightless moa birds. Isolated remains and estimates of them suggest that the largest Haast’s Eagles could attain a wingspan of up to three meters long, though a two and a half meter wingspan is more easily established from the majority of known remains. Even with the lower estimate however, the Haast’s Eagle still had a wingspan roughly equivalent to today’s largest eagles such as the Steller Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus), Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) and the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Where the Haast’s Eagle really wins in size though is by weight. Most modern eagles, including the females which are usually larger than the males, never exceed nine kilograms in weight when living in the wild (captive kept eagles are not included in case these are overfed). Estimates of male Haast’s eagles however range from nine kilograms all the way up to twelve kilograms, while females could weigh as much as fourteen to even fifteen kilograms. This means that the Haast’s eagle is probably one of if not the heaviest eagle that we know about to ever take to the air. Because of the extra weight, it is believed that a Haast’s eagle would launch itself into the air by jumping up from the ground while flapping.
The Haast’s Eagle was not a bird that was adapted for long range soaring over great open distances, the relative shortness of the wingspan is a clear indication that the Haast’s Eagle was adapted for flight amongst trees and other locations where there was not much room to open up the wings. By proportion the tail has become enlarged to cover a larger surface area, something that would help to create lift in the absence of larger wings. A large tail would also allow for more stable and more manoeuvrable low speed flight, and would have enabled Haast’s Eagles to have had an exceptional ability for tight turns while flying amongst trees.
The Haast’s Eagle is also credited as having larger jaws than most modern eagles, as well as possessing several long talons on the feet. The talons of the Haast’s Eagle are noted as being similar in form to those of the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja). These talons were between forty-nine to sixty-one and a half millimetres long for the front toes while the talon of the hallux (the rear toe that was opposable to the others) was up to one hundred and ten millimetres long. It were these talons that would have been the primary killing weapons of an individual eagle.
The Haast’s Eagle was adapted to hunt and kill large prey upon a one on one basis, but the only suitably large prey in New Zealand for such a large predator were the moa. Moa were large flightless birds which are known by several genera, the largest of which of the Dinornis genus could grow up to around three and a half meters tall. These birds inhabited the forests that covered New Zealand during the Pleistocene and Holocene.
As both apex and specialised predators, the future of Haast’s Eagles was certain for as long as there were moa to hunt. However, by 1250-1300AD New Zealand had been settled by the first Māori people, and this signalled the end for much of the native and specialised fauna of New Zealand. The first settlers needed to make the land suitable for long term habitation which meant that vast areas of forests began to be cleared, destroying the habitat of many animals. What had a larger impact upon the numbers of Haast’s Eagles however was the active hunting of the moa birds by people. This caused a significant drop in the numbers of moa which meant that quite suddenly there was not enough food to support the population of Haast’s Eagles which then began to decline. This continued all the time as the moa were hunted to extinction, and with the Haast’s Eagles unable to switch to a different food source, they too followed the moa into extinction.
Resistant to swap prevention(100%).
Haast’s Eagle is a new creature for the game and until now not one that I had really bothered to look at (although I should as Birds is my next theme team). So at first thought she seems a bit underwhelming for an Epic. Part of that is because two out of three abilities grant her a dodge percentage she’ll never get to use due to the overabundance of Resilient beasts in the game. I really want to like her but I just can’t see her being much use. Hopefully she will get a hybrid and that DNA will be worth something.
I don’t see her as a Raid option either unless we get new lower level bosses and even then I think she wouldn’t be a viable option.
What are your thoughts on this new cenozoic bird? Any ideas on how she could be used in the game?