The majestic golden eagle is an unforgettable sight. Measuring up to 31 inches in length, with a wingspan of over seven feet, the golden eagle can only be confused with an immature bald eagle or a very large dark phase red-tailed hawk. An adult female golden eagle may weight up to 13 pounds. The golden eagle is still used in the sport of falconry, and in Asia to help fox and wolf hunters.

The adult golden eagle is dark brown throughout with lighter feathers on the back on the neck. The wings and tail are very long. The legs are feathered to the yellow toes. The talons are among the most powerful in the avian world. Immature birds have white patches in the wings and at the base of the tail. Males and females are similar, but the female is larger.



Although the golden eagle is capable of taking prey as large as herons, cranes, and small livestock, the golden eagle usually preys on medium-sized mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, marmots, and prairie dogs. It also captures ptarmigans and ducks. The golden eagle hunts close to the ground to surprise its prey.


High mountains, desert, tundra, prairies, forests, and cliffs.


The golden eagle breeds throughout Canada and Alaska, south through the Rocky Mountain states and into northern Mexico. it is the national emblem of Mexico. Wintering golden eagles may also occur throughout the eastern United States, and a few breed in the high peaks of the Appalachian Mountains. The golden eagle is also found throughout the mountains of Europe and Asia.


The golden eagle is declining in much of its western range. Some increases have been noted in its sparse eastern range.