Description of the Golden Eagle

BREEDING MALE

The Golden Eagle is mostly dark brownish in color with a golden nape, black bands in the tail that are visible in flight, and a relatively small head.

 

Golden Eagle

Female

Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance

None.

Juvenile

Juveniles have a white base to the tail and white patches at the base of the flight feathers, both of which are evident in flight.  Golden Eagles lose their juvenile appearance and attain their adult appearance over four years.

Habitat

Golden Eagles inhabit mountains, plains, and foothills.

Diet

Golden Eagles eat small mammals.

Behavior

Golden Eagles forage by soaring in search of prey, or by observing from a perch.

Range

Golden Eagles are resident across much of the western U.S. and Canada, and also breed north through Alaska. They winter somewhat farther east than they breed. The population is declining slowly over much of its range.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Golden Eagle.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Mongolian falconers have long trained Golden Eagles to hunts foxes and even wolves.

As in many raptors, the female Golden Eagle is larger than the male.

Vocalizations

The call consists of yelps.

Nesting

The Golden Eagle’s nest is a platform of sticks and is lined with finer materials. It is placed on a cliff ledge or in a large tree.

Number: Usually lay 2 eggs.
Color: Whitish with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 41-45 days, and fledge at about 60-70 days, though remaining dependent on the adults for some time.