Golden Eagle/Aquila chrysaetos - Adult

Golden Eagle/Aquila chrysaetos - Photographer: Frank Schulkes
Golden Eagle/Aquila chrysaetos - Photographer: Младен Василев
Golden Eagle/Aquila chrysaetos - Photographer: Младен Василев
Golden Eagle/Aquila chrysaetos - Photographer: Любомир Андреев - Лу_пи

L 80-93 cm, WS 190-225 cm. Breeds in mountains and vast upland forests, sometimes also in more restricted lowland forests. In southern part of range resident; in N more migratory, especially young birds. Food mammals (hare, rabbit, squirrel, rodents, even young fox), gamebirds, carrion. Versatile hunter, soaring high up looking for prey, or flies low attempting to surprise game in Goshawk fashion. Will also sit in treetops for long periods on the lookout. Nest huge, in old tree or on cliff-ledge; re-used if pair is undisturbed.
IDENTIFICATION: Very large, long-winged eagle with typically long tail, about as long as width of wing. Silhouette typical also in wings being slightly narrower at base and inner ‘hand’, producing S-curved rear edge, most pronounced on young birds. Flight powerful, often 6-7 rather deep, slow wingbeats relieved by glide of 1-2 sec., then further short series of beats, etc.; flightpath usually straight. Head-on silhouette when soaring, and often when gliding, typical, with wings raised in shallow V; at times also glides on flatter or somewhat arched wings. Common to all plumages is rather dark brown colour with yellowish-brown or light rufous-brown (due to variation, not age criterion) nape-shawl. - Adult: Flight- and tail-feathers basally grey with 3-5 broad, coarse, dark cross-bars, widely tipped blackish. Upper median and inner greater wing-coverts bleached and worn, forming irregular pale panel (varying in prominence). Often paler rufous breast patch and median underwing-coverts. - Juvenile: Large pure white areas on central wing (primaries and outer secondaries white-based) and inner tail. Rarely, amount of white in wing restricted to small patch (and thus no age criterion). Upperwing-coverts uniformly dark brown, no pale panel. Rear edge of wing S-curved, all wing-feathers uniformly fresh/worn. - 1st-immature (1st-2nd summer): Similar to juvenile but has pale panel on upperwing, and plumage not uniformly fresh/worn. - 2nd-immature (3rd - 5th summer): Like 1stimmature, but a varying number of adult-type flight-feathers, grey and barred, among juvenile-type. White on base of tail kept longest, sometimes still when wings appear adult.
VOICE: Rather silent. A thin, fluty whistle, ‘klüh…’, sometimes in flight. Eaglets and female beg with disyllabic ‘pee-chulp’.

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