Birding Thursday: Golden Eagle

Birding Thursday: Golden Eagle

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done my Birding Thursday series, hasn’t it?  I apologize if you missed it…but now it’s back, and with what is now becoming one of my favorite raptors, the Golden Eagle.

This bird is absolutely magnificent.  I have seen it on several occasions flying and perched, but have also had the privilege of seeing one up close and personal.  It always amazes me how large they are, with their wingspan varying from six to seven and a half feet!

Golden Eagles are fierce birds, adorned with long talons and super sharp beaks to prey on small mammals and even defend their food from other predators like wolves and bears.  They are used as hunters by different tribes around the world along with their feathers by the Native Americans.

(Juvenile bird)

Juveniles and adult Golden Eagles are very distinct, and it can take them up to four years to gain their full adult plumage.  In the picture above, you might notice the white patches underneath the wings and below the rump; this indicates a juvenile bird, typically a first year bird.  As the bird ages over the years the white patches diminish and they become a brown or rufous color underneath. It’s simply amazing to me!

(Adult Golden Eagle)

Living in the Central Valley of California means I live in an area where they are most abundant.  There are lots of areas with rock outcrops where they like to build their nests, which can produce one to three eggs, but only once a year.  They are known to use the same nest, but often rotates between two or more between every breeding season.  The nests are huge, ranging anywhere from five to six feet wide and two feet deep with a nice comfortable bowl in the middle.  The biggest one ever seen was twenty feet across and eight and a half feet deep!  That’s one luxurious nest!

(Babies!!!)

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Birding Thursday!  If you ever see a Golden Eagle make sure to give it a good look and take in the beauty of it soaring in the sky…they are such majestic birds!

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5 Responses to Birding Thursday: Golden Eagle

  1. Sarah says:

    Alright, alright: this is sort of random, but PLEASE look at this. A friend sent me that yesterday, and for some reason, this post made me think of it. I decided to share.

    (Hey maybe it’s not *completely* random because there are definitely some little birdies on there….)

  2. Tavolini says:

    Wow!! These are great photos–did you take some of them? I am happy with the return of bird thursdays :) We have a lot of hawks in Atlanta, but I am not sure what type they are. Do they pair up? We used to have two that frequented the tree in our side yard, but they have since moved on. Always amazing to me to see such large birds in the inner city. Nice change from pigeons :)

    Happy New Year to you!

    • Melissa says:

      As much as I would have loved to have taken those photos, they all came from a site by the Cornell lab of ornithology. They have an awesome bird database on every North American bird you’d ever want to look up! As for your question, yep, birds definitely pair up in the spring, and sometimes for life depending on the species! I’m glad you got to see them; hawks are amazing creatures!

  3. Trisha Dyer says:

    I live in Virginia Beach Virginia. This morning as I took my three dogs outside a young golden eagle came about an inch and a half from taking my miniture dachsund Daisy. My black lab (8 years old) jumped up at the young eagle and snapped his teeth and barked. Daisy ran under a lounge chair and the eagle flew up and parked himself on our tree. Looking down at us and didn’t seemed bothered by Jake, but had his eye on Daisy. I quickly gathered up my pups and went inside to get my camera but he flew away. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to get my pup, however this is the first time he has gotten that close. What a beautiful creature he is. I couldn’t believe how he could manuever so low with wings so large!

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