COMMON NAME: Golden Eagle SCIENTIFIC NAME: Aquila chrysaetos
IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS: Wingspan six to seven feet; length 30 to 40 inches. Dark brown with a golden or light brown nape and dark eyes and beak. Legs are feathered to the toes. Females are often noticeably larger than the males. Immature golden eagles have a patch of white on the tail; the adult tail is gray and brown.
RANGE: The golden eagle is found in North America, Eurasia, and northern Africa. The breeding range in North America includes north-central Mexico, the western United States as far east as the Dakotas, Kansas and Texas,Alaska, and across northern Canada. No nesting records exist for Minnesota. During the winter, they can be found in southern Alaska and Canada, the western United States and Mexico.
HABITAT: Found in a variety of habitats in the western United States, including mountainous areas, canyons, shrub-land, and grasslands. Nesting occurs in large trees and on cliffs. During the winter they are found primarily in shrub-steppe vegetation in the west and wetlands, river systems, and estuaries in the east.
NESTING: A large nest is built out of sticks and twigs in a tree or on a cliff. The female lays one to four eggs (usually two) and often does most of the incubation. The males provide most of the food while the females feed and tend the young. Breeding success in this bird is often very dependent on prey densities (especially jackrabbits in the western United States).
FEEDING HABITS: Golden eagles prey primarily on mammals such as rabbits and hares as well as larger rodents. Up to 20 percent of their diet is comprised of birds and reptiles. Golden eagles feed mostly on food which they catch, although they will eat carrion.