Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Subfamily
Genus
SPECIES
Aquila chrysaetos
Population size
85-160 Thou
Life Span
32-46 yrs
TOP SPEED
128 km/h
WEIGHT
3.6-5 kg
LENGTH
66-102 cm
WINGSPAN
1.8-2.4 m

The Golden eagle is a majestic and powerful bird of prey. Adult individuals are generally similar to each other, though the males are notably smaller than females. The feathering of their body is dark brown, except with golden to blond colored plumage on the back of the head as well as white colored feathers at the base of the tail. Beak and claws are black while feet and cere - a fleshy skin, covering the nostrils of the bird - is yellow in color. Young eagles have a wide line on the tail, which is white-colored with a black edge. In addition, there are white under-wing markings at the base of their primary feathers. By their second year, the white under-wing coverts usually decrease.

Di

Diurnal

Ca

Carnivore

Ar

Arboreal

So

Soaring birds

Al

Altricial

Te

Terrestrial

Pr

Predator

Te

Territorial

Ov

Oviparous

Gl

Gliding

Co

Congregatory

Mo

Monogamy

So

Solitary

Pa

Partial Migrant

G

starts with

Ar

Aristocrats
(collection)

Distribution

Geography

Golden eagles are distributed over a vast territory, covering Eurasia, northern Africa, and North America. They range from Alaska to the central regions of Mexico through most of western North America. In addition, they can occasionally be found in small numbers throughout eastern Canada, and there are scattered pairs, living in the eastern United States. Most populations of Golden eagles are sedentary, but the species is actually a partial migrant. These birds are most frequently found in mountainous areas but they can live in a wide variety of habitats, including grasslands, shrublands, woodland-shrublands, coniferous forests, and tundra. They typically avoid developed areas of any type from urban to agricultural as well as heavily forested regions.

Golden Eagle habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Golden eagles are diurnal, being active by day and sleeping at night. They usually spend time singly or in pairs. However, occasionally, non-mated birds can gather into groups. Also, during extreme weather conditions or abundance of food, wintering adults tend to congregate in groups. Golden eagles prefer to hunt in pairs, cooperating with each other: usually, one of them chases the prey, driving it towards the waiting partner. These birds of prey are generally silent even during the breeding period. Their voice is considered weak, high, and shrill and their distinct calls include a chirp, a seeir, a pssa, a skonk, a cluck, a wonk, a honk, and a hiss.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Golden eagles are carnivores. They mainly feed upon small mammals like prairie dogs, hares, rabbits, ground squirrels, or marmots. Meanwhile, fish, birds, and reptiles frequently become a good supplement to their usual diet. In addition, Golden eagles can occasionally prey on flying birds such as cranes or geese.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
January-May
INCUBATION PERIOD
41-45 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
102-180 days
BABY NAME
eaglet
BABY CARRYING
2-3 eggs

Golden eagles are monogamous and form long-term pairs. They usually stay within a vast territory each year. While rearing the young, Golden eagles frequently move from one eyrie (nest) to another. Throughout their home range, they construct several nests, using them for many years. The eggs are usually laid between January and May, depending on the area, and incubated during 41-45 days. The chicks hatch out at intervals of several days. They are born altricial, brooded by their mother with decreasing frequency during the first 45 days of their lives. Both the male and the female take part in feeding the chicks. The hatchlings stay in the nest for 45-81 days, after which they start leaving the nest by hopping, walking, or just falling out. The young start flying at about 10 weeks old. Then, about 32-80 days after fledging, they become fully independent. Young Golden eagles start breeding only after getting the adult plumage, usually by the age of 4-7 years old.

Population

Population threats

These birds are threatened by environmental destruction, leading to the reduction of their population. Golden eagles are persecuted, electrocuted in power lines as well caught in traps, intended for coyotes or other animals. Major concerns to their population also include poisoning and egg collecting: although the species are legally protected, single cases of both occasionally take place. Another threat is commercial tree-planting, which significantly disrupts their habitat.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List resource, the total population size of the Golden eagle is 85,000-160,000 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Golden eagles play a significant role in the local ecosystem, controlling prey populations. In addition, Golden eagles compete with other animals for prey and habitat. Thus, they prey on the same species as White-tailed eagles, Bald eagles, coyotes, and California condors. As it comes to habitat, they compete with Rough-legged hawks, gyrfalcons, Peregrine falcons as well as ravens.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • This beautiful raptor gets its name from having goldish feathers on its nape.
  • The plumage of a Golden eagle consists of approximately 7,000 feathers.
  • The claws of these birds are very powerful, exceeding in strength the hand and arm of any person.
  • The Golden eagle was considered to be the messenger of the gods in Roman and Greek mythology.
  • In the Middle Ages, the falconers in Europe called this bird a “royal eagle”.
  • The Golden eagle is the national bird of several countries, including Germany, Austria, Albania, Kazakhstan, and Mexico.
  • During the football season of Auburn University in Alabama, this bird serves as the official "war eagle". Before the beginning of each home game, the mascot of the Golden eagle flies around the Alabama school’s stadium.

References

1. Golden Eagle Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_eagle
2. Golden Eagle on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22696060/0
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/707200

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