What sort of an eagle do you picture Gwaihir as?

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Postby MariaHobbit » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:43 am

<BR>There are many species of <a target=new href="http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/eagle/eagle6.html">eagles throughout the world.</a><BR><BR>What sort do you think Tolkien had in mind as the Great Eagles? He wouldn't really have been familiar with the <a target=new href="http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/eagle/eagle8.html">bald eagle</a> as it is a North American bird. <BR><BR>The <a target=new href="http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/whitetailedeagle/?page=wsolitary eagle">white tailed eagle</a> was wiped out of the UK in the early 1800s. I think it looks great, but would Tolkien have known about it?<BR><BR>The <a target=new href="http://www2.ucsc.edu/scpbrg/Student/golden.htm"> golden eagle</a> can be found throughout the northern hemisphere, so could that have been what Tolkien meant?<BR><BR>What do you think?<BR><BR>
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Postby Bom_Tombadil » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:55 am

I imagine Tolkiens Eagles to be much bigger than real eagles. Dont forget that they can carry hobbits/dwarves/Wizards great distances. I dont think they are based on a specific real life eagle. I imagine them as being of a similar size to the winged beasts the Nazgul sit on.
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Postby MariaHobbit » Tue Apr 22, 2003 12:20 pm

<BR>I meant general conformation and coloring. Not size. Of course they are humongous. <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0><BR><BR>
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Postby -Rómestámo- » Tue Apr 22, 2003 12:33 pm

JRRT's painting showing an Eagle of the Misty Mountains in The Hobbit (**Bilbo Woke Up with the Early Sun in His Eyes* ) gives some idea of what he thought they looked like.
Tolkien adapted the eagle, with stylized feathers and brighter colours, from a picture of an immature Golden Eagle in T. A. Coward's The Birds of the British Isles and Their Eggs (first series, first published 1919 ), necessarily omitting the eagle's dead prey.

J. R. R. Tolkien Artist and Illustrator by Hammond and Scull.
The eagle in the picture adapted by JRRT (also shown in this book) stands in an identical pose to the one in JRRT's painting, showing that he based the Eagle's appearance on a Golden Eagle.

[Edit: if Bilbo was a tallish hobbit (a fairly safe bet) of around four feet tall, then the eagle was about eight-nine feet tall at its shoulder(?). I won't hazard a guess as to its wingspan :wink: ... ]

[Edit2: to fix link].
Last edited by -Rómestámo- on Mon May 24, 2004 4:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby wilko185 » Tue Apr 22, 2003 3:08 pm

I assume Tolkien didn't just use the only eagle picture he had access to base his picture on, but was operating under the assumption that "British eagles" = golden eagles, which is more or less true. The white-tailed sea-eagle was only reintroduced to Britain after Tolkien's death, and he never travelled to Scandinavia where he might have seen one; and I don't think ospreys ( aka "fish-eagles" ) really count as eagles. But I doubt Tolkien ever saw a golden eagle either, unless he went hiking in Scotland. They are quite rare now, and I think may have been even rarer in Tolkien's day. <BR><BR>In any case, I'm sure he envisioned all his eagles as north-European (ruling out bald-eagles <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>). The white-tailed eagle is a more impressive bird than the golden eagle, but as it is largely a coast-dwelling bird the habits of the golden eagle seem to make it more compatible with Tolkien's mountain-dwelling eagles.
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Postby MariaHobbit » Wed Apr 23, 2003 12:54 pm

<BR>Thank you, -Rómestámo-, <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>. I didn't know about that painting. Cool! <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-cool.gif"border=0><BR><BR>I have a parrot who stands about 5 inches high at the shoulders and has a wing span of about 20 inches. If the eagle has a similar wingspan ratio, that would make it about 36 <i>feet!</i><BR><BR>Wow. <BR><BR>Scary bird. It's as big as a Quetzalcoatlus! <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-shocked.gif"border=0><BR><BR>
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Postby -Rómestámo- » Wed Apr 23, 2003 1:11 pm

Hi <b>MariaHobbit</b> <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> !<BR>The eagles of the Third Age were mere tiddlers compared with their forefather, Thorondor (<i>Sorontar</i> in Quenya): <BR><UL>Now, even as Fingon bent his bow, there flew down from the high airs <u>Thorondor, King of Eagles, mightiest of all birds that have ever been, whose outstretched wings spanned <b>thirty fathoms</b></u>; and staying Fingon's hand he took him up, and bore him to the face of the rock where Maedhros hung. But Fingon could not release the hell-wrought bond upon his wrist, nor sever it, nor draw it from the stone. Again therefore in his pain Maedhros begged that he would slay him; but Fingon cut off his hand above the wrist, and Thorondor bore them back to Mithrim.<BR><BR><i>Chapter 13</i> Of the Return of the Noldor.</UL><BR>Elsewhere we are told he had a beak of gold. At six feet in a fathom, that is a wingspan of 180 feet. Seriously scary!<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby *Vana*Ever-young* » Thu Apr 24, 2003 10:03 am

i always imagine gwahir as a hue red-tailed hawk. i don't know why. i love those birds.
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Postby MariaHobbit » Thu Apr 24, 2003 2:19 pm

<BR>Hey, I just looked it up.... a Boeing 747 has a wingspan of 195 feet, thereabouts. Quite similar to Thorondor! <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0>
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Postby Almacundo/*Auirandos » Fri Apr 25, 2003 7:47 am

I did an image search for 'golden eagle'. To my surprise there aren't many of what I'd consider impressive photos or artwork of this bird--but I did find this Audobon rendition:<BR><BR><a target=new href="http://tvm.tigtail.org/TVM/M_View/X2/e.NewWorld/2.PreCW/audubon/M/audubon_golden_eagle.1834.jpg">http://tvm.tigtail.org/TVM/M_View/X2/e.NewWorld/2.PreCW/audubon/M/audubon_golden_eagle.1834.jpg</a><BR><BR>You might also find this info about the author-illustrator of that book which inspired JRRT of interest:<BR><BR><a target=new href="http://www.10x50.com/coward/coward.htm">http://www.10x50.com/coward/coward.htm</a>
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Postby Gorhaur » Fri Apr 25, 2003 3:51 pm

I imagine Gwaihir like <a target=new href="http://www.tolkienonline.com/gallery/gallery_item.cfm?id=387">this</a>, only bigger, and mostly brown instead of gold. <BR><BR>Btw, I like the picture you posted in your first post to this thread <b>-Rómestámo-</b>! <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0>
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