This majestic "upland" eagle is aptly named for its golden-brown plumage, with head and nape feathers a slightly lighter, gold color. Measuring 27-33 inches in length, the golden eagle has a wingspan of 78 inches and weighs 7-14 pounds.
Adults wield a bill which is a bit smallerand darker than that of our only other eagle, the bald eagle. The immature golden eagle in flight can be distinguished from the immature bald eagle by the presence of distinct white patches on the underside of the wing and by a broad white tail with a dark band.
Golden eagles have been protected in the United States since 1963. During the 1950s, an estimated 20,000 eagles were destroyed by ranchers, particularly sheep farmers who perceived them to be a threat. In the northeastern states, remnant populations declined drastically. Although sightings occur every year in New York, most are during migration and no active nests are currently known. A nest was built in the winter of 1992-93 by a wintering pair in southeastern New York, but has never been used as the pair departs every spring to return the next fall.
The reasons for the decline of this species in the east are not clear. Various factors seem to be involved, including shooting, accidental trapping, human disturbance at nest sites, loss of essential open hunting habitat due to succession and fire control, and possibly pesticide contamination (especially by DDT).
The Golden Eagle prefers to make its home in open, mountainous areas. You can find their nests in foothills, plains, and open country as well. They require open terrain for hunting and thus are most commonly found in these areas.
Because of their preference towards hunting in open terrain, you’ll find Golden Eagles feasting on small animals that make their homes there as well. Rodents, small mammals, snakes, and fish are all regular parts of an eagle diet.
Golden Eagles are dark brown in color with the characteristic eagle wing silhouette. Their sharp talons help them to catch prey.