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The New McGuffey Fourth Reader
by William H. McGuffey, Compiler

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The eagle is called the king of the birds. He is a large, fierce

bird of prey, of immense strength and great courage; and he

sweeps through the air with a majesty and dignity well becoming

to his noble title.

The eagle leads a solitary life in the wild places of the earth.

He dwells on the crags of mountains or on the lonely peaks of

huge rocks, at whose base the ocean dashes its waves. He swoops

down through dark forests, and uninhabited prairies, and gloomy

glens, seeking his prey.

The Golden Eagle is a splendid bird. The female at full growth is

three feet and a half in length, while the wings stretch from tip

to tip no less than nine feet. The male is not quite so large,

but very nearly so. The name "golden" is taken from the color of

the plumes of the head and neck, which are of a rich golden red

hue. The rest of the body is for the most part covered with rich

blackish brown feathers.

The eagle is well armed for battle and plunder. The beak is

powerful, and bent like a hook, with edges as sharp as a knife.

The feet are furnished with four terrible toes, which have long

and sharp nails, called talons. The eyes are piercing, and flash

forth the proudest glances.

The eagle flies with most graceful ease. On his broad wings,

moved by strong muscles, he sweeps boldly through the air, rising

in circles till he is all but lost to the sight of the beholder.

From this high position he can see far and wide beneath him;

his keen eye singles out his prey at a long distance; and down he

dives with the suddenness of a flash of lightning.

This terrible suddenness of attack commonly kills the victim on

the instant. The weapon of death is not the beak, but either the

wing or the claws; a flap of the wing or a clutch of the talons

is usually enough for the purpose. The eagle kills and eats birds

that are smaller and weaker than himself, he lives upon the best

of the game, and he drags the best of the fish out of the river

or the sea. He carries off the farmer's poultry, and often also

young pigs or lambs; sometimes, it is said, he has carried off to

his nest even a little boy or girl.

The eagle's nest, or eyrie, is high up on the ledge of some

precipice, where hardly any enemy can come. Of course it is a

very large nest; but it is not carefully or nicely built. It is a

rough affair, like the rook's nest; a lot of sticks and twigs,

and heath or grass, with a more comfortable hollow in the middle,

which is padded with softer materials. Here the young are reared;

and here the male bird brings home prey for the female and the

eaglets; bones and flesh are scattered about everywhere. The

eagle is much attached to the spot where he makes his home; he

dwells in the same eyrie year after year, and shows little desire

to seek his fortunes elsewhere.


Immense, very great.

Majesty, stateliness, elevation of manner.

Dignity, grace, loftiness of manner.

Title, name.

Solitary, living by oneself.

Crags, steep, rugged rocks.

Base, foot, bottom.

Plumes, feathers.

Talons, claws.

Eyrie, the nest of a bird that builds in a lofty place.

Ledge, a ridge or projection.

Rook, a bird resembling a crow, but smaller.

Reared, brought up.

Eaglets, young eagles.


What qualities of the eagle may be admired?

What traits has he that are not to be admired?



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