The Golden Eagle is a very large raptor with broad wings, ranging from 66 to 102 cm (26 to 40 in) in length and from 1.8 to 2.34 m (5 ft 11 in to 7 ft 8 in) in wingspan. In the largest race males and females weigh 4.05 kg and 6.35 kg. In the smallest subspecies males weigh 2.5 kg and females 3.25 kg. Adults are primarily dark brown in color, with a paler, typically golden color on the back of the crown and nape, and some grey on the inner-wing and tail. The bill is dark at the tip, fading to a lighter horn color, with a yellow cere. The juvenile Golden Eagle is similar to the adult but tends to be darker, appearing black on the back.
Habitat and Distribution
This bird is one of the widely distributed species of eagle in the world. Golden Eagles are best suited to hunting in open or semi-open areas. Native vegetation seems to be attractive to them and they avoid developed areas of any type urban, agricultural or heavily forested regions. In desolate areas (i.e. the southern Yukon), they can occur regularly at roadkills and garbage dumps. The largest numbers occur in mountainous. Many eagles do their hunting and nesting on rock formations. They can also breed in lowlands if the local habitats are suitable.
Golden Eagles use their agility and speed combined with extremely powerful feet and massive, sharp talons to snatch up a variety of prey (mainly hares, rabbits, marmots and other ground squirrels).
They build large nests in high places (mainly cliffs) to which they may return for several breeding years. Most breeding activities take place in the spring; they are monogamous and may remain together for several years or possibly for life. Females lay up to four eggs, and then incubate them for six weeks. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months.
Calls and Songs
In Western Montana, nine distinct calls have been noted: a chirp, a seeir, a pssa, a skonk, a cluck, a wonk, a honk and a hiss.