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Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos

Length: 30 - 36 inches Wingspan: 6 - 8 feet Seasonality: All Seasons / Winter
ID Keys: Large size, dark brown overall, lighter "golden" crown

Golden Eagle - Aquila chrysaetosGenerally found in the western half of the U.S. (although it is an uncommon resident of the East), the Golden Eagle is a hunter of wide open prairies.  They are also found in much of Europe and Asia.  Golden Eagles are generally solitary birds, and are not often found in the large groups that Bald Eagles are sometimes found.

Habitat: Open country, including prairie, rangeland, desert, or tundra.

Diet: Primarily small mammals.  Occasionally will take larger prey such as young deer or pronghorn.  Also will occasionally feed on birds, snakes, lizards, and carrion.

Behavior: Will look for prey while soaring, while observing from a perch, or by swooping low over the ground.  Pairs will sometimes cooperatively hunt.  Pairs may also mate for life.

Nesting: March through June

Song: Generally silent.  Occasional yelp around nest.

Migration: Birds in northern part of their range (northern half of Canada, and Alaska) move south in the fall.  Many birds in the western U.S. are permanent residents.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Golden Eagle sightings

Similar Species: Bald Eagle (juvenile)

Conservation Status: Currently stable, although numbers are lower than historical levels (especially in the Eastern U.S.)

South Dakota "Hotspot": They are very often found on the Fort Pierre National Grasslands, especially in winter and migration.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Golden Eagle

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Golden Eagle"

3) eNature.com: Golden Eagle

Photo Information: February 1st, 2005 -- Lyman County near Lyman -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Golden Eagle photos.

 

Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Golden Eagle - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon permanent resident in the western part of the state.  Rare winter visitor in the east.

Additional Golden Eagle Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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