The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is the symbol of power and majesty and is called perhaps rightfully the ‘King of the Birds’. It is the most common eagle species and is one of the best raptors in the Northern Hemisphere. The bird is recognized by its golden brown plumage. It uses its sharp talons and speed to prey on small to medium-sized mammals including rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels.
Golden Eagle Facts For Kids
- The golden eagles are large birds of prey with the wingspan of 1.8 to 2.34 m (5 ft 11 in to 7 ft 8 in) and the length up to 66 to 102 cm (26 to 40 in).
- Like other raptors, females are larger with the weight of 9 – 15 lbs, and males are 6.5 – 11 lbs heavier.
- The eagle has 26.5–38 cm (10.4–15.0 in) long tail with the head-body length measures up to 2.5 – 3.0 in.
- The tip of the eagle’s wings is like human fingers except that it adjusts the airflow.
- It has large forward-facing eyes and is able to see eight times sharper than humans.
- The golden eagle is a monogamous (mate for life) species. Once the eagle claims a territory it stays there all year round.
- The northern species are migratory as they fly to the south to avoid extreme cold. They are not known to fly in disputed territories and their home rarely coincides with other eagles.
- It shows an act of ‘sky-dancing’ before mating. The young eagles can travel up to 1,200 miles.
- It has got a high shrill voice and in the Western Montana the eagle is known to make nine distinct calls.
- The speed at which the golden eagle flies is 45–52 km/h (28–32 mph) but it can attain the speed of 190 km/h (120 mph). However when the prey is spotted it dives at a speed of 240 to 320 km/h (150 to 200 mph).
Dig Deeper: Bald Eagle Facts For Kids
- The golden eagle is widely distributed in the western and northern U.S. and is also found in the eastern Canada. Some of its population occupies much of the northern and central Asia.
- It is also found in different parts of Africa and Europe.
- The eagle likes to make homes in a variety of habitats such as in open mountainous areas that are not dominated by densely wooded areas.
- It forages on green grasslands and prairie regions in flat landscapes.
Feeding Ecology and Diet
- It has a varied diet all throughout its habitat range. The golden eagle preys on small to medium-sized mammals such as hares, marmots, young deer, grouse, rabbits, partridge, ground squirrels and pheasants.
- The eagle is able to catch gamebirds during in midair. Once the prey is spotted the eagle flies over it and then with a high-speed glide it attacks the prey and kills it with powerful talons.
- The small prey is killed simply by its talons.
The golden eagle’s feathers are heavier than its entire skeleton.
- The golden eagles build dozens of nest sites within their territories. These nest sites are called eyries.it builds nests in old tall trees or on cliff edges.
- It constructs a nest with the fresh twigs in spring. The southern species lays eggs in the month of January whereas the northern eagles in May.
- The female lays her second egg 2 to 5 days after the first egg.
- The first young hatches in 6 weeks. In times of drought the mother will most likely to kill her younger chick to feed (its meat) to the older one. The eagle’s nests are used again and again by the generations to come.
- The golden eagle’s nest is measured 3 inches across.
- It attains the maturity in about 4 – 5 years.
- The breeding season lasts February to July.
- The incubation period lasts 42 to 45 days.
- The fledging period is 65 – 70 days.
- The breeding interval is one year.
- The average lifespan of a golden eagle is 25 years in the wild.
There are around 125,000 to 250,000 golden eagles remaining in the wild.