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Facts about the Golden Eagle for Kids

The Golden Eagle  is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas. Despite being extirpated from or uncommon in some its former range, the species is still fairly ubiquitous, being present in EurasiaNorth America, and parts of Africa.

  • The highest density of nesting Golden Eagles in the world lies in southern Alameda County, California.
  • These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks.
  • Golden Eagles use their agility and speed combined with extremely powerful talons to snatch up a variety of prey, including rabbits, marmots, ground squirrels, and large mammals such as foxes and young ungulates.
  • They will also eat carrion if live prey is scarce, as well as reptiles.
  • The maximum size of this species is a matter of some debate, although the normal upper weight limit for a large female is around 6.8 kg (15 lb) and large races are the heaviest representatives of the Aquila genus.
  • The sexes are similar in plumage but are considerably dimorphic in size, with females rather larger than males.
  • Juveniles have a darker, unfaded color, white patches in the remiges which may be divided by darker feathers, and a large amount of white on the tail with a black terminal band.
  • Only some Old World vultures and the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) (among the other raptorial birds this eagle co-exists with) are distinctly larger, with longer, broader wings, typically held more evenly, and often have dramatically different color patterns.
  • The largest numbers of Golden Eagles are found in mountainous regions today, with many eagles doing a majority of their hunting and nesting on rock formations.
  • Golden Eagles usually nest in desolate areas where human disturbances are minimal and often avoid highly populated areas year-around.
  • Those found further south in the species’ breeding range are usually non-migratory and may remain without striking distance of their breeding territories all year.
  • At the breeding ground of the Caribou (Rangifer tarandus), this eagle is one of the most frequent predators of newborn or young calves.
  • In the western United States, eagles’ nesting territories may range from 22 to 33 square miles, whereas those nesting further north may maintain territories of up to 39 square miles.
  • The reasons for this are various, but among the nations that use the Golden Eagle as or in a state symbol, there are two clear traditions that help explain the modern usage.
  • Feathers are often worn on Native American headdresses and have been compared to the Bible and crucifix of Christianity.