Animal Fact File: Golden Eagle

The scientific name for the golden eagle is ‘Aquila Chrysaetos’. The golden eagle is one of the most adaptable birds of prey in the world, they have lived on for millions on this planet and remain the most successful and widespread bird of prey in Northern Hemisphere. The golden eagle can be seen across much of Asia, small parts of Europe (with the most sightings in Spain), areas of Scotland, parts of North Africa and much of the North American continent.

The golden eagle can thrive in the following habitats:

1) Woodland

2) Grassland

3) Meadows

4) Mountainous Regions

5) Tundra

The golden eagle has many features which enable it to be a successful hunter, these adaptations include:

1) They are agile and swift flyers which mean they are capable of targeting fast prey and coping with sudden twists and turns.

2) Many golden eagles have a wingspan of around 1.9 m and long feathers on their wings; this allows the animal to stay airborne for extended periods of time while they search for prey.

3) Excellent eyesight – The golden eagle has binocular vision which enables them to detect prey from up to 3 miles away.

4) The golden eagle has sharp, non retractable claws which allow them to capture and kill their prey quickly and easily, this prevents the animal from suffering any injuries.

5) Large, Powerful wings – These enable the golden eagle to reach speeds of a staggering 110 mph when chasing prey.
The golden eagle has been persecuted for centuries across Europe particularly in the UK. In the past people thought that the golden eagle would often attack and kill poultry, game birds and even livestock. Due to the golden eagle’s large size and immense power it is more than capable of attacking and in rare occasions killing grey wolves, they have also been used in falconry.

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There are 6 known subspecies of golden eagle throughout its range; each varies slightly in colour and size. The subspecies that inhabits the British Isles is known as ‘Aquila Chrysaetos Chrysaetos’.

The golden eagle feed on a wide variety of prey (around 380 species have been known to fall prey) these include:

1) Rabbits

2) Brown Hares

3) Small mammals such as squirrels

4) Waterfowl

5) Young deer

6) Game birds (however they prefer to hunt grouse and pheasants)

7) On rare occasions they will attack livestock if food is scarce

8) They will even attack and kill foxes however they only compose of around 10% o their diet, however this varies depending on where they live.

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About 70% of the golden eagle’s diet consists of mammals. Golden eagles are ambush hunters and will often dive towards their prey in the hope it will catch its chosen target.

The golden eagle has declined from much of its original range in the UK and Europe, once they could found throughout these regions now only small, isolated populations remain and these are shrinking … fast! Golden eagles often find it challenging to adapt in a human environment, although some have managed to survive and even thrive in spite of it. There have been projects to reintroduce the golden eagle back into Scotland, there are now 800 individual golden eagles and the population is slowly increasing. The golden eagle has even begun to reclaim some of its lost territory in Europe.

Thank you for reading.

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