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Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)



Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Order: Falconiformes, Family: Accipitridae

The golden eagle is about 30 to 40 inches in length and weighs between 9 and 13 pounds. Its wingspan can be as wide as 7.5 feet, which makes the golden eagle the largest predatory bird in North America. The tail of the golden eagle is grayish brown, while the head, body and other feathers on the wings are typically black in color. The feathers at the head and nape of the eagle's neck are golden brown. Adult eagles have dark brown eyes, while their bill and claws are black. Their cere (a waxy, fleshy area at the base of the beak) and feet are yellow, and their legs are feathered all the way down to their toes. Males and females are similar in appearance, except the female is much larger than the male.



I. DESCRIPTION:
  • The golden eagle is about 30 to 40 inches in length and weighs between 9 and 13 pounds.
  • Its wingspan can be as wide as 7.5 feet, which makes the golden eagle the largest predatory bird in North America.
  • The tail of the golden eagle is grayish brown, while the head, body and other feathers on the wings are typically black in color.
  • The feathers at the head and nape of the eagle's neck are golden brown.
  • Adult eagles have dark brown eyes, while their bill and claws are black. Their cere (a waxy, fleshy area at the base of the beak) and feet are yellow, and their legs are feathered all the way down to their toes.
  • Males and females are similar in appearance, except the female is much larger than the male.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
  • The golden eagle lives in Eurasia and northern Africa, and in North America.
  • The golden eagle is found in mountainous areas, canyons, shrub and grassland. It also inhabits wetlands, river systems and estuaries.
III. DIET:
  • The golden eagle's diet is primarily small mammals such as rabbits and hares, as well as larger rodents.
  • Golden eagles have been known to eat carrion and even other flying birds such as geese.
  • A pair of eagles will often hunt together; one chases the prey to exhaustion, and the other swoops down for the kill. A golden eagle can also carry up to 8 pounds in flight and can dive at its prey at between 150 and 200 mph.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
  • Breeding season begins in mid-January and continues into mid-September, and can vary according to geographic region.
  • Each pair of eagles can have up to 10 nests. But nesting in the same spot varies from bird to bird. Some will nest in the same spot every year, while others will choose another area or nest to breed. Even more amazing is that some nests will be used by future generations.
  • The nest is usually built on a high cliff ledge, which enables the eagles to spot prey easily.
  • The nests are made up of sticks, twigs, roots and weeds. It's lined with moss, down and fur. Some cliff nests have measured 8 to 10 feet across and 3 to 4 feet deep.
  • The female is responsible for most of the incubation, though the male often takes part. The female can lay one to four eggs. The eggs are dull white and spotted or blotched with brown or reddish brown.
  • Incubation lasts for 35 to 45 days, and the young typically hatch several days apart.
  • The nestlings fledge at 9 to 10 weeks, but the eaglet is still dependent on its parents for another 30 days or more.
  • A pair of golden eagles need up to 35 square miles of space in order to hunt.
  • Golden eagles mate for life.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
  • Most golden eagles in Alaska and Canada travel south in autumn when the food supply begins to decline, but not all eagles migrate.
  • Golden eagles can be beneficial to livestock interests because a large percentage of their diet is made up of rabbits, which compete with livestock for forage.
  • Golden eagles are protected under the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1962.



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