Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

Details About The Golden Eagle

  • General Information

    Golden Eagles are dark with a gold patch behind the head and neck. The head is smaller and the tail appears longer than the Bald Eagle's. Immature Golden Eagles in flight flash white underneath at the base of the primary feathers and at the base of the tail. Golden Eagles are "booted," their legs are feathered to the toes. Plumages of both sexes are similar; the females usually have a wider and more distinct sub-terminal band.

    Latin Name: Aquila chrysaetos
    Class: Aves
    Order: Falconiformes
    Family: Accipitridae
    Length: 27-33 inches
    Weight: 7-14 pounds
    Wingspan: 72-87 inches
    Common Name: Black eagle, brown eagle, calumet eagle, mountain eagle
    Etymology: aquila (Latin) - "an eagle"; chrysaetos (Greek) - "a golden eagle"

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    Golden Eagle active flight is with slow wing beats. Golden Eagles are masterful flyers, often hunting from the air and soaring on strong currents. They can stoop at high speeds and have been reported to attain speeds greater than the Peregrine Falcon in a dive.

    The Golden Eagle makes a high-pitched kee-kee-kee or a high scream or squeal. However, they are usually silent.

    Golden Eagles are normally a western bird. They generally occur in lightly forested areas or in forests with open areas nearby. They favor mountain or hilly habitats, where upwind drafts help these large birds to takeoff and soar.

  • Nesting

    Golden Eagle eyries are usually located in a commanding position on a rocky cliff or in towering oaks, sycamores, or pine. Their nests are large and bulky, made of branches, roots, and plant stems, lined with hay, green grass, leaves, or bark. They usually lay two white, lightly blotched eggs with shades of cinnamon. The female does the incubating, but the male assists by bringing his mate food. Incubation lasts 43-45 days, and hatching can take more than a day. Golden Eagles are very sensitive to human disturbance during nesting.

  • Distribution

    Golden Eagles are widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere; the majority of the North American birds are found west of Texas, and Canada also has a healthy population. They are also occasionally seen in the Adirondacks and the southern Appalachians.

  • Food

    Golden Eagles use several different methods to capture prey, depending on the type of prey. Perch and wait, including ground perching, and soaring and low level flight are the most common methods used. When attacking prey, the Golden Eagle often uses one foot to catch food. If the prey is large, one foot grabs the head, while the talons of the other foot are driven into the lungs and other soft parts of the body. The beak is generally not used for killing prey. Golden Eagles are mammal eaters, with 90% of their prey caught at ground level. 70-90% of their prey is rodents and rabbits, but Golden Eagles will also take Dall and mountain sheep, squirrels, caribou, coyotes, cranes, swans, immature Peregrine Falcons, snakes, frogs and fish. They have a success rate of about 30%, and the smaller and more agile males are often more successful on solo hunts. While they can kill large prey, Golden Eagles have difficulty carrying large prey because of their own heavy body weight. They may typically carry about 2-3 pounds.

  • Current Resident Birds

    King Arthur, the Golden Eagle, was named in honor of volunteers Chris and Jim Arthur. The Raptor Medical Center is also named for Mr. Arthur, who lives in retirement in Lake Wylie, SC. King Arthur was a member of the education team for many years, however now, much like his namesake, he is retired and can be seen frolicking in his water dish on the display trail.

    Nobyl, a female Golden Eagle, has a charismatic personality and forceful style. Off track by a few hundred miles, this Golden Eagle was found in Lenior, NC, not a native area for Golden Eagles in 2012. She is fully flighted and currently in training to join CRC's flight team.

    Orion, named for the popular constellation, is a male Golden Eagle. As he aged, Orion developed cataracts in both eyes leaving him almost completely blind. In 2014, he underwent catarct correction surgery in Raleigh, and his vision improved so much that he was cleared to go back on the display trail and live with King Arthur, another male Golden Eagle.

    Zlaty, meaning "golden" in Czech, is a male Golden Eagle and a member of our education team. In his tenure at CRC he has presided over many Eagle Scout ceremonies. A native of Scotsdale, AZ, Zlaty has lived at Carolina Raptor Center since 1985.

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    Golden Eagles have a grip strength over 100 times that of a human male. Watch out guys, we wouldn't recommed any talon wrestling!

    The Golden Eagle is the most common official national animal in the world—it's the emblem of Albania, Germany, Austria, Mexico, and Kazakhstan.

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