Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are fantastic birds that are often overshadowed by the U.S. national bird, the bald eagle. Golden eagles are widespread. They occur seasonally across much of North America and are year round residents of the western United States, including the basin and range. In addition, they can be found across Eurasia and parts of north Africa.
Golden eagles are one of North America's largest birds of prey. Their wingspan is between 5-8 feet. They have strong, powerful beaks and talons which allow them to be effective predators. They typically prey upon small mammals such as jack rabbits and squirrels, but they will prey upon reptiles, fish, carrion and other birds. They have also been seen attacking larger mammals such as coyotes, dogs and even bears to defend their prey or their young.
Adult golden eagles are dark brown in color with lighter, golden brown feathers on the back of their head, flowing down their nape. Juvenile golden eagles tend to have white "windows" on the underside of their wings and at the base of their tail (see photo in this post), which can help differentiate them from juvenile bald eagles, which tend to have more overall mottling of white and brown throughout their underside. Golden eagles are one of the few hawks that have feathers all the way down their legs, just exposing their yellow toes and dark talons.
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