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Golden Eagle
Aquila chrysaetos

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: American Golden Eagle (canadensis).

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Aquila chrysaetos
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Distribution: Afrotropical/Indomalayan/ Nearctic/Palearctic. Northern Eurasia from Scandinavia to SIBERIA south to the Iberian Peninsula, northern Africa, Mediterranean islands, Middle East, PAKISTAN, and CHINA, KOREA, and JAPAN and in North America from ALASKA and CANADA east to Labrador south in the west to central MEXICO; northernmost populations are migratory. more....

Subspecies: 6 races. A. c. canadensis: NORTH AMERICA, from Alaska south to northern MEXICO (Durango) and east to Labrador, Quebec, and New York; A. c. chrysaetos: Northwestern and central Europe east to western and central SIBERIA and Altai; A. c. daphanea: Turkestan east to northeastern CHINA and south to PAKISTAN, Himalayas, and southwestern CHINA; A. c. homeyeri: Iberian Peninsula, northwestern Africa and large Mediterranean islands east through EGYPT, Asia Minor and Arabia to Caucasus and IRAN; A. c. japonica: KOREA and JAPAN; A. c. kamtschatica: Lena River to Chukotka, Bering Strait, KAMCHATKA, Sea of Okhotsk, Russian Far East, and northern MONGOLIA. more....

Taxonomy: The study of Lerner and Mindell (2005), based on the molecular seqences of on nuclear and two mitochondrial genes, showed that the genus Aquila, as presently constituted in most phylogenetic treatments, is not monophyletic. They found that the Aquila chrysaetos, Spizaetus africanus, Hieraaetus fasciatus, A. verreauxii, A. audax, and A. gurneyi form a clade of closely related species. Helbig et al. (2005) found similar relationships, based on DNA sequences from one mitochondrial and two nuclear genes. Earlier, a close relationship among A. chrysaetos, A. audax, A. gurneyi, and A. verreauxii was proposed by Brown and Amadon (1968), based on morphological data. Based on an analysis of the mitochondrial pseudo-control region, Vċli (2002) found that the clade formed by L. (Aquila) clanga/pomarina showed approximately the same distance to A. chrysaetos as did the clade of A. heliaca/nipalensis. Wink et al. (2004) and Helbig et al. (2005) found differences between the Old World A.c.chrysaetos and the North American A.c. canadensis, using DNA sequences from one mitochondrial and three nuclear genes, but regarded them as being significant only at the subspecific level. more....

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Northern populations are migratory and some altitudinal migration and nomadism also occur. Populations breeding at lower latitudes, e.g., Morocco, are mostly sedentary, although some occasionally disperse after breeding to areas outside of the normal breeding range (Thévenot et al. 2003). Juveniles disperse widely during their first year, with males remaining closer to the natal area than the more highly exploratory females (Soutillo et al. 2006). more....

Habitat and Habits: Found in a wide variety of mostly open habitats, including deserts and steppes. In most regions, Golden Eagles prefer areas where cliffs or tall forests alternate with open spaces. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on mid-sized mammals, including ground squirrels, rabbits, and marmots, and also on birds and carrion. Usually locates prey by soaring or from quartering over low vegetation, often hunting in pairs. Prey is captured on the ground after a steep dive, often from a great height. more....

Breeding: The nest is a large platform of sticks, lined with thinner branches (often green material), hair, and grasses, placed in a tree, on a cliff, or on an electricity pylon. Nests may be used in successive years and sometimes attain massive size. Clutch size is 1-3 eggs, most often 2, which are white and usually marked with heavy reddish-brown and medium brown markings. The incubation period is about 45 days. more....

Conservation: This widely distributed species is common in many areas, but declining locally in others, possibly including parts of the United States (Bechard and McGrady 2002, Kochert et al. 2002, Kochert and Steenhof 2002). It is widely, but discontinuously distributed across much of Europe, an area that comprises less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Populations there were stable between 1970-1990 and continued to be stable or increasing in most portions of Europe, except for a handful of countries, during 1990-2000. Because its small population size makes it susceptible to the risks affecting small populations, it was evaluated as "Rare" in Europe by BirdLife International (2004). In various parts of its range, this species suffers from habitat loss, shooting, trapping, poisoning, disturbance, collision with powerlines, electrocution, and, in North America, from the Native American feather trade, but somehow seems to maintain healthy populations in most major parts of its range. The Golden Eagle is classified globally by BirdLife International as a species of "Least Concern." more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimated the global population (defined as the number of adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season) in the range of 100,101 to 1,000,000 individuals. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of mature birds at 170,000 individuals, but noted that the supporting data for this estimate were poor. The European population was estimated at 6,600 to 12,000 breeding pairs by BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council (2000), and this was later refined to 8,400 to 11,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). Partners in Flight (2004) estimated the North American population at i80,000 individuals, but also noted that the data quality were rather poor. more....

Important References: 
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
Brown, L.J., and A. Watson. 1964. The Golden Eagle in relation to its food
  supply. Ibis 106:78-100.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Haller, H. 1996. Der Steinadler in Graubünden Langfristige Üntersuchungen
  zur Populationsökologie von Aquila chrysaetos im Zentrum der Alpen.
  Ornithologische Beobachter 9:1-167.
LeFranc, M.N., and W.S. Clark. 1983. Working bibliography of the Golden
  Eagle and the genus Aquila. National Wildlife Federation Scientific and
  Technical Series no. 7. National Wildlife Federation, Washington, D.C.
McGrady, M.. 1997. Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle. BWP Update 1(2):99-114.
Orta, J. 1994. Golden Eagle. Pp. 197-198 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and
  J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Watson, J. 1997. The Golden Eagle. T. & A.D. Poyser, London.

Sites of Interest:
Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, Mexico
Includes a plan for the protection, conservation, and recovery of the Golden Eagle in Mexico.
Society for Research of the Golden Eagle
Focused on the Japanese Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos japonica.
The Golden Eagle Trust Limited
Operates a project to re-establish a viable, self-sustaining breeding population of Golden Eagles in NW Ireland after an absence of almost 100 years.
Highland Foundation for Wildlife
Supports a wide variety of conservation projects for the Golden Eagle.
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations
Golden Eagle photos.
National Eagle Center
Conducts an annual survey of wintering Golden Eagles in the Midwest.

Andersen, David
Atkinson, Eric
Bedrosian, Bryan
Bloom, Peter
BT, Sowmithri
Caldarella, Matteo
Collins, Paul
Demerdzhiev, Dimitar
Dobrev, Dobromir
Duerr, Adam
Ellis, David H.
Fuller, Mark
Gjershaug, Jan Ove
Goodrich, Laurie
Harmata, Al
Harness, Richard
Hipkiss, Tim
Hunt, Grainger
Ivanovski, Vladimir
Jais, Markus
Karyakin, Igor
Katzner, Todd E.
Kennedy, Pat
Kochert, Michael N.
Koskimies, Pertti
Lincer, Jeff
Linthicum, Janet
Ma, Ming
McGrady, Mike
McIntyre, Carol
Millsap, Brian
Mojica, Libby
Moore, Stan
Nadjafzadeh, Mirjam
Naoroji, Rishad K.
Newton, Ian
Nikolenko, Elvira
Nocedal, Jorge
Oestlyngen, Arve
Pagel, Joel (Jeep)
Pokrovsky, Ivan
Preston, Charles
Ragyov, Dimitar
Restani, Marco
Ritchie, Robert J.
Scholz, Friederike
Sergio, Fabrizio
Sharpe, Peter
Slater, Steve
Smith, Brian
Smith, Jeff
Steenhof, Karen
Tapia, Luis
Thelander, Carl
Tingay, Ruth
Villers, Alexandre
Waks, V.J.
Watson, Jim
Widmer, Eric
Yamada, Ritsuo
Yotsova, Tsvetomira

Last modified: 2/17/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Jan. 2022

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