Class: Aves (Birds)
Body length: 2.5 to 3 feet (75 to 90 centimeters)
Wingspan: 4.9 to 6.9 feet (1.5 to 2.1 meters)
Weight: 6.3 to 14.7 pounds (2.84 to 6.7 kilograms), with adult females larger than males
Life span: up to 38 years in the wild, up to 50 years in zoos
Incubation: 41 to 45 days
Number of eggs laid: usually 2
Age of maturity: 65 to 70 days at first flight but are dependent on parents for another 30 days
Conservation status: lower risk
Golden eagles can reach speeds of up to 120
miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour) during a dive in play
or after prey.
In central Asia, golden eagles are sometimes trained for falconry. Hunters in Kazakhstan still use these eagles to catch deer and antelope.
Eagles have about 7,000 feathers.
The talons of a golden eagle are thought to be more powerful than the hand and arm strength of any person.
Birds: Golden Eagle
The brown and the beautiful
Golden eagles are large birds of prey that belong to the hawk and eagle family. They are now primarily mountain dwellers but at one time also lived in forest and plains areas. With broad, rounded wings, the colors of their feathers range from black-brown to dark brown, along with a striking golden head and neck that give the bird its common name.
Sticks and eaglets
A pair of golden eagles will stay together for life, building several nests in their territory over the years. Each nest is made out of heavy tree branches and grass and is built on a cliff face or in a tree. The eagles add more material to the nest each year, so it gets bigger and bigger. The female will lay two eggs a few days apart between January and May, depending on the habitat. The chicks, called eaglets, hatch in the order they were laid, and the oldest chick will often attack and sometimes even kill its younger sibling. The mother will feed the eaglets for about 50 days. Then it's time for the eaglets to attempt their first flight and eat on their own. Usually only one, the older chick, will make it out of the nest.
The youngsters look like the adults but have a duller, more mottled appearance and a white-banded tail and white patch on each wing that gradually disappears with every molt. Golden eagles don't reach their full adult plumage until they are five years old.
Eagles can see much better than a human with perfect vision can. Golden eagles have large eyes that take up most of the space of the eagle's head. Their keen eyes can see clearly and in color, and allow the eagle to see movement from a long distance. Although golden eagles can see extremely well during the day, they can see no better than we can at night. Their eyes don't move much in the eye socket, but an eagle can rotate its head about 270 degrees, just like an owl can, to look around. Golden eagles also have a clear eyelid that protects their precious eyes from dust and dirt.
Meat for dinner
Golden eagles are excellent hunters. They will often work in pairs while hunting: one eagle drives the prey to its waiting partner. The talons on their feet are used for killing and carrying the prey, while the beak is used only for eating. Their prey includes marmots, hares, mice, and sometimes birds, martens, foxes, and young deer. Large mammals like adult deer can only be taken if they are wounded or sick. They may also eat carrion if live prey is scarce. After a successful hunt and meal, the golden eagle can go for several days before its next meal. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the golden eagle is fed carnivore diet, thawed mice, rats, and an occasional rabbit.
In past years, thousands of golden eagles were killed where sheep are raised because ranchers thought they preyed on young sheep and goats. Most of the eagles were shot from airplanes. Yet when studies were done, there was no evidence that the eagles attacked sheep or other livestock; instead, it was found that rabbits were the eagles' main food source. Unfortunately, many golden eagles are still killed by ranchers or by others for their feathers. Dozens of eagles are also killed each year when they land on exposed power lines, are captured in traps set for other animals, or are poisoned by tainted bait or lead shot buried in their prey.