Golden Eagle

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Blue = Wintering only
Dark green = All-year

Falco chrysaëtos Linnaeus, 1758

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas. Despite being extirpated from some its former range or uncommon, the species is still fairly ubiquitous, being present in Eurasia, North America, and parts of Africa. The highest density of nesting Golden Eagles in the world lies in southern Alameda County, California. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks.

Golden Eagles use their agility and speed combined with extremely powerful talons to snatch up prey including rabbits, marmots, ground squirrels, and large mammals such as fox, wild and domestic cats, mountain goats, ibex, and young deer. They will also eat carrion if prey is scarce, as well as reptiles. Birds, including large species up to the size of swans and cranes as well as ravens and Greater Black-backed Gulls have all been recorded as prey. They have even been known to attack and kill fully grown roe deer. The Eurasian subspecies are used to hunt and kill wolves in many native communities, where their status is regarded with great mystic reverence.

Golden Eagles maintain territories that may be as large as 155 square kilometres (60 square miles). They are monogamous and may remain together for several years or possibly for life. Golden Eagles nest in high places including cliffs, trees, or human structures such as telephone poles. They build huge nests to which they may return for several breeding years. Females lay from one to four eggs, and both parents incubate them for 40 to 45 days. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months.

Contents

Description

The Golden Eagle is a large, dark brown raptor with broad wings. Its size is variable: it ranges from 70–84 centimetres (27.6–33.1 in) in length, has a wingspan of 185–220 centimetres (72.8–86.6 in), and weighs 3,000–6,125 grams (105.8–216.1 oz).[2] Sexes are similar in plumage but are considerable dimorphic in size, with females much larger than males.[3] Adults are primarily brown, with gold on the back of the crown and nape, and some grey on the wings and tail.[4] Tarsi feathers may range from white to dark brown. In addition, some birds have white "epaulettes" on the upper part of each scapular feather tract.[5] Bill is dark at the tip, fading to a lighter "horn color", with a yellow cere.[6]

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