Golden EagleAquila chrysaetos
- ORDER: Accipitriformes
- FAMILY: Accipitridae
The Golden Eagle is one of the largest, fastest, nimblest raptors in North America. Lustrous gold feathers gleam on the back of its head and neck; a powerful beak and talons advertise its hunting prowess. You're most likely to see this eagle in western North America, soaring on steady wings or diving in pursuit of the jackrabbits and other small mammals that are its main prey. Sometimes seen attacking large mammals, or fighting off coyotes or bears in defense of its prey and young, the Golden Eagle has long inspired both reverence and fear.More ID Info
Year-roundBreedingMigrationNonbreedingRange map provided by Birds of the World
- Águila Real (Spanish)
- Aigle royal (French)
- Cool Facts
- Although capable of killing large prey such as cranes, wild ungulates, and domestic livestock, the Golden Eagle subsists primarily on rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs.
- The amount of white in the wings of a young Golden Eagle varies among individuals, and a few lack white in the wings entirely.
- The Golden Eagle is the most common official national animal in the world—it's the emblem of Albania, Germany, Austria, Mexico, and Kazakhstan.
- Because their common prey animals (mammals) don’t tend to ingest pesticides, Golden Eagles have escaped the harm sustained by fish-eating or bird-eating raptors from DDT and related chemicals. When these pesticides thinned the eggshells of many birds of prey, Golden Eagles’ shells retained normal thickness. Pesticide concentrations in their blood stayed below levels known to cause reproductive problems.
- Biologists, engineers, and government officials have cooperated in developing and publicizing power-pole designs that reduce raptor electrocutions—caused when the large birds' wings or feet accidentally touch two lines and form a circuit. Since the early 1970s, utility companies have modified poles to prevent eagle electrocutions. And some new power lines in nonurban areas have been built to “raptor-safe” construction standards.
- “Hacking,” an age-old falconry technique, is helping rebuild Golden Eagle populations. Humans feed caged, lab-reared nestlings at a nestlike hack site until the birds reach 12 weeks old, when the cage is opened and they begin feeding themselves. The fledglings continue to receive handouts from their hack-site caretakers for several weeks, until they gain full independence in the wild.
- The Rough-legged Hawk, the Ferruginous Hawk, and the Golden Eagle are the only American raptors to have legs feathered all the way to the toes.
- The oldest recorded Golden Eagle was at least 31 years, 8 months old, when it was found in 2012 in Utah. It was banded in the same state in 1980.