Eagle Series: Golden Eagle Facts
Common Name(s): Golden Eagle
Scientific Name: Aquila chrysaetos
Approximate Wing Span: 72.8-86.6 in.
Approximate Life Span: 28 years
Natural Habitat: Open landscapes of mountains, steppes and plateaus in the northern hemisphere
The Golden Eagle is recognized as one of the largest and fastest birds in North America and the national bird of Mexico. With a standing height of about two feet and a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet, these golden necked birds are strong enough to drag full grown deer off mountain sides. In fact, ranchers once killed these birds of prey because they feared they would take their livestock. Who wouldn’t be scared of a bird that could dive off a cliff at 200 mph and catch its prey in a flash?
This American Eagle is widely known for their large, brown body and white head hence their name. The raptor also towers over most other birds of prey making this bird extremely easy to recognize in the wild.
This eagle predominantly lives in mountainous or rugged areas in North America where updrafts are prominent. Aside from North America, these birds are also found in Europe, North Africa and Asia. Golden Eagles are known to be more widely dispersed than any other species of eagle.
Golden Eagles primarily nest on cliff sides but also reside in tall trees and man-made structures including windmills, transmission towers and telephone poles. They usually prefer elevated cliff sides or structures to get a bird’s eye view of extensive territory.
Food & Hunting
This type of eagle primarily eats small mammals including rabbits, squirrels, rats, prairie dogs, birds and marmots. However, they have been known to kill deer, livestock, swans, cranes, goats and other larger mammals. Below is a video of this bird of prey dragging a small deer off a cliff:
This bird of prey also eats carrion left over from scavengers and even attacks other bird’s to steal a quick meal.
Golden Eagles usually hunts by diving off their perch at astounding speeds and quickly snatching their prey. They also sometimes hunt on the ground by flapping their wings as they run to propel them forward.
Behavior & Habits
Once of the most fascinating rituals or behaviors this bird of prey exhibits is “sky dancing.” Starting at great heights, this bird performs a series of 20 vertical dives and ascending swoops at amazing speeds. They have also been known to use small twigs or rodents as a toy by dropping them high in the sky and recovering them before they hit the ground.
In Captivity – Feeding Habits
As stated Golden Eagles usually eat small ground mammals in the wild. Thus, when Golden Eagles are rescued they usually are fed thawed frozen mice, frozen rats and frozen rabbits.