Golden Eagle Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle

Scientific Classification

Common Name
golden eagle, American gold eagle
Genus Species
Aquila (eagle) chrysaetos (gold eagle) canadensis

Fast Facts

The plumage of the golden eagle is dark brown with white at the base of the tail and gold feathers on the back of head. The bill and talons are black. Immature birds have a broad, white tail band with a black edge, and large white patches on the undersides of the wings.
1 m (3 ft) in height; 2 to 2.3 m (6.5 to 7.5 ft) wingspan
Male: 3.5 to 4 kg (8 to 9 lbs.)
Female: 4.5 to 6 kg (10 to 14 lbs.)
Includes small and medium sized mammals, birds, and reptiles; occasionally carrion
35 to 45 days
Clutch Size
2 to 4 eggs
Fledging Duration
72 to 84 days
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 4 to 5 years
Life Span
Up to 30 years in wild, longer in captivity
Western U.S. and across Canada and Alaska; winters in North America from south-central Alaska to central Mexico
Found in open country and desert grasslands
Global: Unknown
IUCN: Least Concern
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

Golden eagles are not typically found in the eastern portion of the United States because these eagles shy away from largely populated areas. They can be found in the rugged solitude of western U.S. where people are more spread out.

Golden eagles were at one time a symbol of malice. They were once thought to steal infants from their cribs and carry them off. This is not true; they feed mainly on jackrabbits, marmots, and hoofstock.

These birds are able to soar for long periods of time with little effort. To do so, they catch rising masses of warm air, which carries them upward in a spiral fashion.

When golden eagles spot prey while soaring, they tuck their wings and swoop at speeds up to 322 kph (200 mph) Some say it sounds like a small, low-flying airplane.

These eagles prefer to attack upwind, which increases both speed and ability to control their speed and maneuverability.

Golden eagle nests are made of large twigs or roots and are usually lined with moss, bark, fur, or other soft material. Their nest is large, spanning as much as 2.4 to 3 m (8 to 10 ft) across and 0.9 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 ft) deep!

For more information about raptors, explore the Raptors InfoBook.

Ecology and Conservation

Eagles are a very important part of the environment. By eating dead animal matter, they help with nature's clean-up process. Eagles are also hunters, so they keep animal populations strong. They do this by killing weak, old, and slower animals, leaving only the healthiest to survive. The birds will also feed on carrion, which sometimes results in death from vehicle collisions or poisoning.


Brown, L. and D. Amadon. Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of the World. New Jersey: Wellfleet Press, 1989.

Laycock, G. "All-American Survivor". Wildlife Conservation, July-August, 1991. pp. 38-46.

Lee, G. "Bald Eagle Soars Off Endangered List". The Tampa Tribune, June 30, 1994.

Savage, C. Eagles of North America. Wisconsin: Northwood Press, 1987.

BirdLife International 2015. Aquila chrysaetos . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22696060A60131733. Downloaded on 12 March 2020.