Golden Eagles, The National Bird of Mexico

Golden Eagles are great birds. They are both the largest bird in North America and the National Birds of Mexico. In East Asia, the country Mongolia uses Golden Eagles in the sport of falconry. They are used to hunt animals which can be as small as rabbits and bunnies or as tall as wolves.

Golden Eagle In Flight Photo by Tony Hisgett

Golden Eagle In Flight Photo by Tony Hisgett

Identifying Them: 

Golden Eagles are the largest birds in North America. They’re 26 to 40 inches tall and their wingspan varies from 1.8 meters to 2.34 meters long. Though they are very fierce raptors, they don’t like to talk very much. Their voices are very high-pitched and aren’t very intimidating.

 

 

 

Habitat:

Golden Eagles are spread throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Like most raptors, you may see them in open areas which is essential to their lifestyle because they always seem to be hunting. You could also find them up high in woody mountains or on the high cliffs.

Behavior:

Because they have such strong wings, they are powerful fliers and can reach a speed of up to 200 miles per hour when diving from a high cliff.

Courtship and Reproduction:

In a courtship display called “sky-dancing,” from great heights, Golden Eagle performs a series of up to 20 dives. Then they follow the dives with upward swoops, beating their wings three or four times at the top of each rising swoop. Both single birds and pairs will engage in aerial play which uses objects like twigs, rocks, or even carrion. They carry these items into the sky, releasing the objects and then quickly retrieving them (Golden Eagles won’t repeat this annually like Bald Eagles do). During breeding season, some mated pairs will hunt jackrabbits. One eagle creates a diversion catching the animal’s attention while the second Golden Eagle goes in for the kill.

Most Golden Eagles will tend to construct their nests on cliffs around halfway up. This way, they can have a full view of their surroundings which is excellent hunting wise. Weather and climate can damage their nests or kill their future nestlings, so they tend to place their nest where they think it will be the safest. About 1-3 months before she lays her eggs, both male and female start to build their nest. They construct it using twigs and grasses and sometimes bones. Bark, leaves and yucca are perfect for lining the exterior rim of the nest, also other vegetation like mosses and lichens are suitable too. These nest are huge and average from 5-6 feet wide. If you think that is big, then you’d be surprised to know that the largest Golden Eagle nest found was 20 feet wide.

Golden Eagle Chick Photography by Johann Jaritz

Golden Eagle Chick Photography by Johann Jaritz

Golden Eagles are monogamous and will usually only have one mate which he or she will mate with for life. The female will lay 1-3 eggs which are usually white with some tiny brown specks. Once she lays her eggs, they both (mostly the female) take turns incubating the eggs and takes about 1 1/2 months to incubate (41-45 days). In comparison to songbirds, female Golden Eagles collect their own food while songbird males usually look for food and feeds it to the female while she sits on the eggs. Once the chicks hatch, it is the male’s turn to do most of the hunting. 80% of their food is caught by the male, meaning he is gone for a lot of the time. In fact, Golden Eagle males spend 74% of their nesting period away from the nest, hunting or just perching away from their nest. After hatching, the chicks adapt to their new world well and become pretty competent at around 20 days of age which is about the same time as they start to become more capable of flying, but at about 40 days of age is when they actually turn into fledglings. Golden Eagles have a lifespan of about 15-20 years in the wild, mostly because they are such strong fighters.

Diet:

These Eagles will mostly feast on small mammals like rabbits, mice, prairie dogs and squirrels. Golden Eagles will also eat bigger birds like swans and cranes and sometimes bigger mammals such as wolves and deer. Like crows, magpies and seagulls, they will eat carrion and carcasses and will actually follow the other scavengers to a spot where the carrion is.

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About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
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