Aquila chrysaetos
(Golden Eagle)

Order: Falconiformes
Order Description: Vultures, Osprey, Hawks, Falcons
Family: Accipitridae
Family Description: Osprey, Hawks and Eagles

Physical Description:
30-41" (75-104 cm). Dark eagle with golden accents on back of neck that occasionally continue around the face onto the breast. White band on upper tail feathers; white flash in wings at base of the primaries. Yellow feet; gray bill. Immatures have white on tail that ends with a dark bar. Immatures have a distinct white patch at the base of the primaries underneath, and a white base to the tail.

Similar Species- Immature Bald Eagles, Black Vulture, black morph of Rough-legged Hawk

A yelped kyarp-- kyarp-kyarp.

Breeds from Alaska, east through Northwest Territories to Labrador, and south to northern Mexico, central Texas, western Oklahoma, and western Kansas. Also breeds rarely in eastern U.S. to New England. Winters from south-central Alaska and southern Canada, south through breeding range.

Found on prairies, tundra, open wooded country, and barren areas, especially in hilly or mountainous regions. In Idaho, prefers open and semi-open areas in both deserts and mountains.

Feeds mainly on small mammals, but may also eat insects, snakes, birds, juvenile ungulates, and carrionClick word for definition. Jack rabbits are principal prey in southern Idaho, and this preference is unaffected by changes in prey density.

Builds stick nest on cliff or in tree. Commonly forages in early morning and early evening. Idaho study indicated males capture more food during brood rearing, while females spend more time feeding offspring. Territory size averaged 3276 ha. Positive correlation between breeding success and jackrabbit numbers reported in Idaho, Colorado, and Utah. Species resides in Idaho year-round, although recent studies have revealed some winter birds are breeders from Alaska and Northwest Territories.

Egg-laying occurs from February-May, depending on range (late February to early March in Utah). Female (usually) incubatesClick word for definition 1-3 eggs (rarely 4, usually 2) for about 43-45 days. In southwestern Idaho, numbers fledged/pair has ranged from .39-1.36 over last 20 yr. Young can fly at 60-77 days (longer in far north than in south) and are cared for by parents for 30+ additional days (family unit will sometimes remain together several months). Breeding typically takes place in fourth or fifth year. Lifelong monogamyClick word for definition may be the rule, though some apparent exceptions have been recorded.

Element Code: ABNKC22010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
Collopy, M.S. 1984. Parental care and feeding ecology of golden eagle nestlings. Auk 101:753-760.

Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.