Golden Eagles are reverse size dimorphic, meaning that the females are larger than the males.
Above data from A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors, Wheeler & Clark 1995. We highly recommend this book for anyone interested in raptors.
Within their range, Golden Eagles can be found breeding where there are cliffs or trees for nesting and at least one species of hare or rabbit and at least one species of ground squirrel or marmot for prey.
"Golden's" can be seen at many Raptor Migration sites: Go to Raptor Migration Page
Golden Eagle: Sovereign of the Skies has amazing Golden Eagle photos and great life history information.
Golden Eagle Life History and Interesting Facts
Golden Eagles are named for the golden or tawny-buff colored head and neck feathers found on the adults.
Juvenile Golden Eagles are a much darker brown on the head and body, but are easily identified by the wide white band at the base of the tail. Juveniles also have a white wrist patch that can be seen for several years. The young birds molt into adult plumage when they are three to four years old.
Beginning Hawkwatchers often confuse adult Golden Eagles in the air with juvenile Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures, but with experience, learn to recognize the differences by wing and body proportions and by wing beat. Many field guides use the exact same silhouette for Bald and Golden Eagles, which is incorrect.
When perched nearby, Golden Eagles and juvenile Bald Eagles have black beaks, but the beak of a bald eagle is much heavier and thicker from top to bottom. All Golden Eagles have feathered tarsi, meaning the section of their foot from the ankle to the toes (tarsus) are covered in feathers. The tarsus of a Bald Eagle is unfeathered and has yellow scales instead of feathers, like a chicken leg.
Though we give both species; golden and bald the common name of eagle, they are not closely related. Golden Eagles, or true eagles (Genus Aquila)are more closely related to hawks and buteos. Bald Eagles (Fish Eagles -Genus Haliaetus) are more closely related with old world vultures. The fact that they looks so similar in their characteristics, but come from different parts of the bird of prey family tree is a good example of convergent evolution, where the best solutions (Wing and body size, beak, talons) to similar flying and feeding requirements have evolved independently, but are remarkably similar.
Which Eagle is on U.S. Coins?
Many people believe the eagle on the back of the U.S. Quarter must be a Bald Eagle because the Bald Eagle is one of the U.S. National Symbols. Look closely at the eagle's legs to see if they are bare or covered by feathers. Yes, they are covered by feathers, indicating the model was a "booted" eagle of some sort, meaning feathered tarsi. Golden Eagles are booted eagles, as well as Black Eagles and Tawny eagles of Africa and the Wedge-tailed Eagle of Australia.
The earliest U.S. Coins depicted the Heraldic Eagles that were similar to the crests and shields of Europe Kings and Roman Ceasars. These eagles are sometimes very stylized, but were modeled after the Golden Eagle of Europe and North Africa.
There are examples of U.S. coins that do depict Bald Eagles. Examples:
The 1796 No Stars Quarter Eagle - unfeathered tarsi holding arrows and olive branch. Liberty Quarter Eagle (1840-1907) and Liberty Seated Half Dollar (1839-1891) - unfeathered tarsi and also notice the heavy, thick Bald Eagle type bill.
Check back from time to time...We will be adding more Golden Eagle pictures, information and references in the future.Go to Bird Watching Bliss Home
Golden Eagle References:
Technical Note. Bureau of Land Management - Dept. of Interior. Habitat Management Series for Endangered Species. Carol Snow. Report No. 7. Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos.
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