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.
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!
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!
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!