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Golden Eagle
Similar Birds:
 Tawny Eagle
 Eastern Imperial Eagle
 Spanish Imperial Eagle
 Steppe Eagle

Golden Eagle
Photographer: Chuck Szmurlo

Golden Eagle in Flight

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle Range Map
Golden Eagle Range Map
Light Green: Nesting Area
Blue: Wintering Area
Dark Green: Residential all Year
Latin Name Aquila chrysaetos
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Europe, Asia, N Africa & N America
Colour Brown
Length 75 - 90 cm (30 - 35 inches)
Wingspan 190 - 227 cm (75 - 89 inches)
Weight 3 - 6.5 Kgs (6.5 - 14 lbs)
Life Expectancy 32 Yrs (Approximately)

Main Characteristics

The Golden Eagle is one of the most well known and magnificent birds of prey in the UK. They have a length of 75 - 90 cms (30 - 35 inches), a wingspan of 190 - 227 cms (75 - 89 inches) and they weigh between 3 and 6.5 Kgs (6.5 - 14 lbs).

Adults have brown plumage with a golden brown crown and nape. Juveniles have a more dull appearance and they have a white patch on the base of their tail and underside of their wings. This disappears with every moult until full adult plumage is reached in their fifth year.

Golden Eagles have a square tail, fully feathered legs and large talons. Females are much larger than males and they both have the same coloured plumage.

Golden Eagles are very agile in flight and they can remain in the air for hours. They have a graceful, soaring flight with their wingtips being slightly upturned.

Golden Eagles are not very vocal birds, but sometimes they emit a barking call.


Golden Eagles are found in Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America. In Britain they are predominantly found in the Highlands of Scotland.

They inhabit mountainous, often treeless, areas but they require either a large tree or a rock face for nesting.

They have territories up to 56 Sq. Km (35 Sq. miles) and they are resident birds which means they do not migrate.


Golden Eagles mainly eat rodents, rabbits, hares, young deer, birds, reptiles and carrion.

They have very good eyesight and when prey is spotted they will dive down and seize it with their curved talons. Sometimes a pair will hunt together with one chasing their prey until it is exhausted and they other one swooping in for the kill.


The nest of a Golden Eagle can be up to 2 m (6.6 ft) wide and it is built from sticks and branches and lined with greenery. Golden Eagles pair up for life and they used the same nest year after year.

Between January and May, depending upon the area, 2 eggs (sometimes 3) are laid. The female incubates them for 41 - 45 days and when the chicks hatch they are covered in small white feathers.

The older chick often kills the younger chick but if food is abundant both may survive. After 65 - 80 days the chicks fledge but they are still fed by their parents for a further 2 months.


Humans are the main predators of Golden Eagles.


There are 6 subspecies of Golden Eagle that differ slightly in size and plumage. They are listed below along with their location:

Aquila chrysaetos chrysaetos
Eurasia except the Iberian peninsula, east to Western Siberia.

Aquila chrysaetos canadensis
North America.

Aquila chrysaetos homeryi
Iberian peninsula and North Africa, east to Turkey and Iran.

Aquila chrysaetos japonica
Japan and Korea.

Aquila chrysaetos daphanea
From Southern Kazakhstan to South West China including Northern India and Pakistan.

Aquila chrysaetos kamtschatica
Eastern Siberia.

Interesting Facts

When Flying Golden Eagles can reach speeds of 128 Km/hr (80 mph) but they average at 48 Km/hr (30 mph).

The Golden Eagle is featured in the national coat of arms of many countries.

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