Friday, January 30, 2009

Golden Eagle

Whenever I see a really large bird of prey, I know it has to be one of two species: bald eagle or golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Adult bald eagles have easily distinguished white heads and tails, which means that an all-dark big bird is usually a golden eagle (immature bald eagles are often mostly dark, too, but a little observation makes it fairly easy to tell them apart).

Upon closer inspection, it's easy to see that the head is indeed gold-colored. The wingspan can be six to eight feet. Having such big wings can be a disadvantage at times, though. One of the places I regularly see golden eagles is feeding on road kill. They are slow to move away when a car comes, and getting hit by a car is probably the biggest cause of their demise. So if you ever see a bunch of birds up ahead feasting on a dead animal on the road, slow down to make sure one of those birds isn't a golden eagle--it needs extra time to take flight.

Golden eagles will also eat the normal assortment of small mammals, reptiles, and birds. They mate for life, with the female larger than the male as in the case of most raptors. Similar to red-tailed hawks, golden eagles have eyes eight times more powerful than humans.

We see golden eagles year round in our valley, and thoughout western North America they are fairly common. They still are exciting to see, and generally whenever someone sees one they tell other people about it. There's just something neat about seeing such a large and majestic bird. Fittingly, the golden eagle is the national bird of Mexico.

2 comments:

Caroline said...

That is a beautiful creature! I'm sure all the mice and small animals don't feel the same...

The Incredible Woody said...

Beautiful!

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