HABITAT AND RANGE
Golden Eagles range from sea level to several thousand feet, occupying most of the open terrain of deserts, mountains, plateaus, and steppes in the Northern Hemisphere. They are not usually found in heavily forested areas. Golden Eagles living in the northern part of their range move south when the food supply becomes scarce in the winter. In the United States, golden eagles are primarily found in the northern and western states, often in dry areas.
These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks (nape). The nape varies in color from a straw yellow to a dark golden hue. Like most raptors, the females are larger than the males. They have a wingspan of six to seven feet and can weigh anywhere from 6-14 pounds.
Golden eagles prey mainly on mammals such as jack rabbits, ground squirrels and marmots. They also scavenge the remains of larger animals, such as deer. Other prey includes young foxes, mink, lizards, snakes and game birds, such as grouse and ptarmigan. Most prey is caught on the ground, but golden eagles sometimes catch birds in midair. Some Golden Eagles eat tortoises. They fly with the tortoise held in their talons and then drop the tortoise on a rock outcrop to break the shell open.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
Golden Eagles will live on average to be 30. They have monogamous pairs which will stay together for years, sometimes 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. The young fledglings take their first flight 65-70 days after hatching. The parents continue to feed and protect the young birds for another month or longer, while they gain flying and hunting skills.
- Golden Eagles are more closely related to hawks, like the Red-tailed Hawk, than to Bald Eagles. Bald Eagles are more closely related to kites.
- Golden Eagles will reach adult-hood at about five years of age.
- For centuries, the golden eagle has represented a symbol of power, courage and supernatural properties.