This story was first published on January 28, 2009
Circulating message claims that, at around 40 years of age, eagles go through a painful 5-month process of rebirth in which they remove and regrow their beak, talons and feathers thereby allowing them to live another 30 years.
The information in the message is false. Eagles do not undergo the process of rebirth described in the message. Many recipients immediately realise the story is simply a metaphorical work of fiction meant to inspire us. But, many others take the claims as true and subsequently believe that eagles really go through a rebirth process as described.
This is the story of an eagle
The Eagle has the longest life-span of it’s species
It can live up to 70 years
But to reach this age, the eagle must make a hard decision
In it’s 40th year its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey which serves as food
Its long and sharp beak becomes bent
It’s old-aged and heavy wings, due to their thick feathers, stick to it’s chest & make it difficult to fly
Then, the eagle is left with only two options: DIE or go through a painful process of CHANGE which lasts 150 days
The process requires that the eagle fly to a mountain top and sit on it’s nest
There the eagle knocks it’s beak against a rock until it plucks it out
Then the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and then it will pluck out it’s talons
When it’s new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking it’s old-aged feathers
And after 5 months, The eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives for 30 more years
Why is change needed? Many times, in order to survive we have to start a change process. We sometimes need to get rid of old memories, habits and other past traditions. Only freed from past burdens, can we take advantage of the present.Note that several slightly different versions of the slide presentation are circulating
This rather fanciful tale, which circulates in the form of a slide presentation, claims that eagles can live for up to 70 years if they go through a prolonged and painful process of rebirth during their 40th year. According to the story, to be “reborn” at forty, the eagle must retreat to its nest on a mountain top, first knock off and then regrow its beak, then pluck out and regrow its talons and, finally, pluck out and regrow its feathers, a process that takes 150 days. Thus renewed, the eagle can take its “flight of rebirth” and go on to live another thirty years.
However, the information in the message is false.
Eagles do not undergo the process of rebirth described in the slide show. In fact, the story is simply an allegory about change and does not reflect the real life cycle of eagles. Presumably, the creator of the slide show invented the eagle rebirth story as a means of illustrating his or her concepts regarding the role of change in our lives. Unfortunately, the author has presented the rebirth story as if it was factual and therefore many recipients tend to take it literally.
Of course a closer review soon reveals the absurdity of the tale. The story does not explain how the eagle could possibly survive without food or water for the five months of its transformation. Moreover, an eagle’s talons and beak continue to grow throughout its life and therefore do not grow old and unusable as claimed in the story. And its feathers are also continually replaced. The American Bald Eagle Information website notes:
For those of you who have e-mailed me wondering if it’s true that an eagle goes into seclusion, plucks out all of its feathers, sheds its beak and talons, and then renews itself, is a myth/legend. It’s possible the eagle renewal myth/legend was derived from a biblical metaphor. I didn’t deduce it is a myth/legend from the contents of a book. Both science and logic indicate an eagle can not survive for any length of time without his/her feathers, beak and talons. Exposure and starvation would overcome the eagle long before a physical renewal could occur. An eagle’s beak and talons grow continuously, because they are made of keratin, the same substance as our hair and fingernails. Eagles molt in patches, taking almost half a year to replace feathers, starting with the head and working downward. Not all feathers are replaced in a given molt.
Bald eagles typically live between twenty and thirty years in the wild. The lifespan of other species of eagles may vary, although none are known to reach seventy years in the wild.
Although scientists have studied eagles of various species for generations and much has been published about them, no credible sources back up the “eagle rebirth” story in any way. There are, however, plenty of reliable sources that dismiss the story as a foolish hoax.
Rebirth stories, such as that of the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes of its funeral pyre, have been part of human cultures for thousands of years. The philosophical message behind the story – that we often need to undergo a painful and prolonged process of change in our lives in order to spiritually grow and move forward – is certainly worth heeding. However, the nonsensical story used as a vehicle for the message all but destroys its credibility.
And there are other anomalies in the presentation. In some slides, the eagle shown in the photographs is a Bald Eagle, but in others, a different species, the Golden Eagle, is shown. The story also sprouts the scientifically meaningless claim that “the eagle has the longest life-span of its species”. The author perhaps meant to say that eagles live longer than all other kinds of birds, but this is also incorrect.