The red-crested eagle is a large bird of prey native to Atlantis, possibly the largest in the world. It typically had a wingspan of seven feet and weighed up to thirty pounds. It was the apex predator of Atlantis before the arrival of man. The United States of Atlantis chose the red-crested eagle as its national bird, and featured it prominently on their flag and money.
The arrival of humans and the subsequent colonization of Atlantis put a substantial strain on the eagles, and the eagles themselves proved capable of killing humans. In the first Atlantean settlement, New Hastings, children were not permitted to go out alone, and the settlers actively killed the eagles on sight. Moreover, the eagle's favorite prey, the honkers, were also extensively hunted by humans. The decline of the honkers deprived the eagles of their primary food source, although they did adapt to hunting introduced species such as deer and domesticated animals, as well as the occasional human. During the Atlantean War of Independence, a soldier was killed by a red-crested eagle in the aftermath of a battle.
As the honkers vanished, so did the red-crested eagle, though they were spotted with some regularity through to the mid-19th century. On his last excursion to Atlantis in 1843, John James Audubon shot and cataloged a female eagle. While skinning the bird, Audubon dissected its stomach and discovered it filled with gobbets of half-digested flesh. It smelled of kidney which was the favorite part of the honker giving Audubon hope it still existed.
The red-crested eagle is based upon the Haast Eagle of New Zealand.
- See e.g.: Atlantis and Other Places, pgs. 44-48, HC.
- Ibid., pgs. 45-50.