Golden EagleAquila chrysaetos

adult
Dale & Marian Zimmerman/VIREO
juvenile
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
juvenile (1st year)
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
juvenile (1st year)
Jorge Sierra/VIREO
juvenile (1st yr)
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
adult
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
adult
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
Golden Eagle

Description

30-41" (76-104 cm). W. 6' 6" (2 m). A large, all-dark eagle with a pale golden nape. Bill smaller and darker than that of Bald Eagle. In young birds, tail white at base, black at tip; white patches on undersides of wings.

Voice

A high-pitched kee-kee-kee; also a high scream or squeal, but usually silent.

Listen

calls of captive

Habitat

Mountain forests and open grasslands; some winter on salt marshes in the East, found in any habitat during migration.

Range

Breeds from Alaska east across northern Canada south to Mexico, Canadian prairie provinces, and Labrador. Winters in southern part of breeding range and in much of United States, except Southeast. Also in Eurasia.

Discussion

Common in much of the West, these majestic eagles prey mainly on jackrabbits and large rodents but will also feed on carrion. In some parts of their range Golden Eagles are not migratory but remain in their territories all year. The Golden Eagle has probably never been numerous in eastern North America; after long persecution, only a very few breeding pairs now survive. In recent years a few nests have been found, and some have produced young, but it is unlikely that the species will ever be more than a rarity in the eastern part of its range.

Nesting

1-4 whitish eggs, unmarked or lightly speckled with dark brown, in a large mass of sticks placed on a rocky ledge or in a tall tree.

Similar Species

adult

Turkey Vulture

25-32" (64-81 cm). W. 6' (1.8 m). Eagle-sized blackish bird, usually seen soaring over the countryside. In flight, the long wings are held upward in a wide, shallow V; flight feathers silvery below.

adult male, dark morph

Rough-legged Hawk

19-24" (48-61 cm). W. 4' 4" (1.3 m). A large, long-winged hawk that often hovers. Tail white at base with a dark terminal band.

adult

Bald Eagle

30-31" (76-79 cm). W. 6-7' 6" (1.8-2.3 m). A large blackish eagle with white head and tail and heavy yellow bill.

adult

California Condor

45-55" (1.1-1.4 m). W. 8' 6"-9' 6" (2.6-2.9 m). Largest flying bird in North America with a wing spread of more than 9 feet.

Vireo

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