Aquila chrysaetos canadensis


Common Names: Golden eagle
Category: Birds
Sub-category: Hawks, Kites, & Eagles

Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas. Despite being extirpated from or uncommon in some its former range, the species is still fairly ubiquitous, being present in Eurasia, North America, and parts of Africa.

Adults are primarily brown, with a pale gold color on the back of the crown and nape, and some grey on the wings and tail. Tarsal feathers range from white to dark brown. The bill is dark at the tip, fading to a lighter horn color, with a yellow cere. Juveniles have a darker, unfaded color, white patches in the remiges which may be divided by darker feathers, and a large amount of white on the tail with a black terminal band. Occasionally upper wing feathers of juveniles are also white, or birds lack white on the wing entirely. Size readily distinguishes this species from most other raptors when it is seen well. Most other raptors are considerably smaller, including Buteo hawks which are perhaps most similar to the Golden Eagle in structure among smaller raptors. Buteos are also usually distinctly paler below.

Golden Eagles are fairly adaptable in habitat but often reside in areas with a few shared ecological characteristics. They are best suited to hunting in open or semi-open areas and search them out year-around. The largest numbers of Golden Eagles are found in mountainous regions today, with many eagles doing a majority of their hunting and nesting on rock formations. However, they are not solely tied to high elevations and can breed in lowlands if the local habitats are suitable. They can additionally be found in tundra, shrublands, coniferous forests with openings and steppe, prairies and other regional grassland habitats. Though not generally a wetland bird, they may pass through or hunt in marshes, normally while migrating or wintering. Golden Eagles usually nest in desolate areas where human disturbances are minimal and often avoid highly populated areas year-around.

They are protected under multiple laws including the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Act. It is illegal to harm the birds, take or disrupt their corpses, or even take their feathers.

Edible Notes: Eagles are a protected species in the United States and therefore should never be taken for food. Various sources however do list them as edible.
Warnings: While they tend to avoid humans, eagles are large raptors and are capable of inflicting serious damage to a human. They may also take small pets as prey. While not common, there are cases where raptors like eagles have attacked humans when defending their territory. It is not safe to handle an injured eagle unless protected and trained.
Sightings