Golden Eagle

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Golden Eagle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia For other uses, see Golden Eagle (disambiguation). Golden Eagle Adult Golden Eagle (North American subspecies)
Aquila chrysaetos canadensis Conservation status Least Concern (IUCN 3.1) Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Neognathae
Superorder: Neoaves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Aquila
Species: A. chrysaetos
Binomial name Aquila chrysaetos
(Linnaeus, 1758) Light green = Breeding only
Blue = Wintering only
Dark green = All-year Synonyms

Falco chrysaëtos Linnaeus, 1758

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas. Despite being locally[specify] extinct or uncommon, the species is still fairly ubiquitous, being present in Eurasia, North America and parts of Africa. The highest density of nesting Golden Eagles in the world lies in southern Alameda County, California.[1][2][3]

These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks. Their wingspan averages over 2 m (7 ft) and their length 1 m (3 ft).

Golden Eagles use their agility and speed combined with extremely powerful talons to snatch up prey including rabbits, marmots, ground squirrels and many other prey and large mammals such as fox, wild and domestic cats, mountain goats, ibex, and young deer. They will also eat carrion if prey is scarce, as well as reptiles. Birds, including large species up to the size of swans and cranes as well as ravens and greater black backed gulls have all been recorded as prey. They have even been known to attack and kill fully grown roe deer. The huge Eurasian subspecies are used to hunt and kill wolves in many native communities, where their status is regarded with great mystic reverence.

Golden Eagles maintain territories that may be as large as 155 square kilometres (60 square miles). They are monogamous and may remain together for several years or possibly for life. Golden Eagles nest in high places including cliffs, trees, or human structures such as telephone poles. They build huge nests to which they may return for several breeding years. Females lay from one to four eggs, and both parents incubate them for 40 to 45 days. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months.

Contents

  • 1 Description
  • 2 Taxonomy and systematics
    • 2.1 Subspecies and distribution
  • 3 Ecology
    • 3.1 Feeding
    • 3.2 Reproduction
    • 3.3 Congregation and Migration
  • 4 Status and conservation
  • 5 In human culture
    • 5.1 Falconry
    • 5.2 Heraldry
    • 5.3 Religion
      • 5.3.1 In North America
      • 5.3.2 In Hinduism
  • 6 Gallery
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links
//

Description

Subadult, note white in tail and dark neck.

Adult Golden Eagles range considerably in size, though some are among the largest eagles of the genus Aquila. Most subspecies of Golden Eagle vary in the range from 65 to 112 cm (26–44 in) in length, wingspan can range from 150 to 280 cm (60–110 in), and weight is from 2.5 to 9 kg (5.5–20 lb). The smallest-bodied subspecies is A. c. japonica while A. c. daphanea is the largest on average.[4] However, wild specimens from Northwestern North America (A. c. canadensis) can exceed normal dimensions, as the largest recorded weighed 9 kg (20 lbs) and had a body length of 102 cm (40.1 in).[5] As with many Accipitriformes, females are considerably larger than males; in the case of the Golden Eagle they weigh one-quarter to one-third more than male birds.

The plumage colour ranges from black-brown to dark brown, with a striking golden-buff crown and nape, which glows in the sunlight and light reflects the golden tint, which give the bird its name. The upper wings also have an irregular lighter area. Immature birds resemble adults, but have a duller more mottled appearance. Also they have a white-banded tail and a white patch at the carpal joint, that gradually disappear with every moult until full adult plumage is reached in the fifth year. Contour feathers may be moulted in a short time span.[6]

Taxonomy and systematics

This species was first described by Linnaeus in his 1758 Systema naturae as Falco chrysaetos.[7] The type locality is given simply as "Europa"; it was later fixed to Sweden.

The Golden Eagle is one of the largest eagles in the genus Aquila, which are distributed almost worldwide. The latest research indicates it forms a worldwide superspecies with Verreauxs Eagle, Gurneys Eagle and the Wedge-tailed Eagle.[citation needed]

Subspecies and distribution

The type species is

  • Aquila chrysaetos (Linnaeus, 1758) – Eurasia except Iberian peninsula, east to western Siberia.

Besides, there are five living subspecies of Golden Eagle that differ slightly in size and plumage. They can be found in different parts of the world:

  • Aquila chrysaetos canadensis (Linnaeus, 1758) – North America.
  • Aquila chrysaetos kamtschatica Severtzov, 1888 – Eastern Siberia, from the Altay to the Kamchatka Peninsula. Often included in A. c. canadensis.
  • Aquila chrysaetos daphanea Severtzov, 1888 – Southern Kazakhstan east to Manchuria and south-west China, also northern Pakistan, Kashmir and western India.
  • Aquila chrysaetos homeryi Severtzov, 1888 – Iberian peninsula and North Africa, east to Turkey and Iran.
  • Aquila chrysaetos japonica Severtzov, 1888 – Japan and Korea.

The larger Middle Pleistocene Golden Eagles of France (and possibly elsewhere) are referred to a paleosubspecies Aquila chrysaetos bonifacti, and the huge specimens of the Late Pleistocene of Liko Cave (Crete) have been named Aquila chrysaetos simurgh.[8]

Ecology

Feeding

The Golden Eagles beak is well-suited to tear apart large prey.

Golden eagle predominant prey in North America is leporids (hares and rabbits) and sciurids (ground squirrels, prairie dogs and marmots), the two groups normally comprising 50% to 94% of the diet of nesting eagles. Additional mammals regularly taken include mice, martens, foxes, young deer and mountain goats.[9] The secondary important prey group for eagles are other birds. Various gallinaceous birds (largely phasianids, ptarmigans and grouse) are the most significant avian prey. However, virtually any bird, from a jay to a swan, is potential prey. During winter months when prey is scarce, Golden Eagles scavenge on carrion to supplement their diet. Sometimes when no carrion is available golden eagles will hunt down large prey, such as goat-antelopes and caribou.[10] There is one confirmed report of a Golden Eagle snatching the cub of a Brown Bear,[11] Other attacks by a pair of eagles on adult brown bear have been filmed, the birds probably were driving the bear out of their territory. Golden eagles are avian apex predators, meaning a healthy adult is not preyed upon. There are records of golden eagles killing and eating large raptors such as Gyrfalcons, Northern Goshawks and Buteo hawks, whether adults, nestlings or eggs. Falcons, jaegers and Buteos like Rough-legged Hawks, which are normally competitors, have worked together to group-mob Golden Eagles that have passed their adjacent nesting areas.[12] In one instance, a golden eagle flying in towards a peregrine falcon nest was struck and killed by a swooping parent falcon.[13] This may have been a freak event since, bearing in mind the eagle is many times larger and more powerful than the falcon, the reverse outcome is much more likely.[14] More commonly, Golden Eagles kleptoparasitize, or steal prey, from other raptors. Despite being often smaller in size than the largest vultures, they are capable of displacing them, of both unrelated families, from carrion. Golden Eagles have exceptional eyesight and can spot prey from extreme distances. The Golden Eagle has a resolution power many times more powerful than that of a human. The huge talons are used for crushing, killing and carrying the prey, whilst the beak is used for tearing and eating. A pair often have a division of labour while hunting, one bird may drive the prey towards its waiting partner. On the other hand, the size difference between males and females allows more unpaired birds to live off the land, which is helpful to maintain a sufficiently large population for this large and slowly-maturing bird.

Reproduction

Golden Eagle eyrie (in hollow at left center) in the Valley of the Siagne de la Pare, Alpes-Maritimes (France).

Golden Eagles usually mate for life. They build several eyries within their territory and use them alternately for several years. These nests consist of heavy tree branches, upholstered with grass when in use. Old eyries may be 2 metres (6.6 ft) in diameter and 1 metre (3.3 ft) in height, as the eagles repair their nests whenever necessary and enlarge them during each use. If the eyrie is situated on a tree, supporting tree branches may break because of the weight of the nest. Certain other animals – birds and mammals too small to be of interest to the huge raptor – often use the nest as shelter. Their predators are just the right size for Golden eagle prey, and therefore avoid active eyries.

The female lays one to four (usually two) eggs between January and September (depending on the locality). The eggs vary from all white to white with cinnamon or brown spots and blotches. They start incubation immediately after the first egg is laid, and after 40 to 45 days the young hatch.[15] They are covered in fluffy white down and are fed for fifty days before they are able to make their first flight attempts and eat on their own. In most cases only the older chick survives, while the younger one dies without leaving the eyrie. This is due to the older chick having a few days advantage in growth and consequently winning most squabbles for food. This strategy is useful for the species because it makes the parents workload manageable even when food is scarce, while providing a reserve chick in case the first-born dies soon after hatching. Golden eagles invest much time and effort in bringing up their young; once able to hunt on their own, most golden eagles survive many years, but mortality even among first-born nestlings is much higher, in particular in the first weeks after hatching.

Congregation and Migration

As with many raptors, golden eagles may congregate once a year. In Eurasia and North America, this congregation usually occurs in the Autumn (while congregations of bald eagles is a late-winter / early-spring phenomenon). The largest known congregation, in number of birds present, of the golden eagle is in the state of Montana in October. The congregation site is the east slope of the Bridger Mountains and adjacent Bridger Canyon. The mountain range is on the edge of the Rocky Mountain chain, where it borders parts of the Great Plains and several island ranges. Golden eagles from all over North America congregate here before migrating for the winter.

Status and conservation

Potawatomi chief Kack-Kack with eagle feather war bonnet, c.1925.

At one time, the Golden Eagle lived in temperate Europe, North Asia, North America, North Africa and Japan. In most areas this bird is now a mountain-dweller, but in former centuries it also bred in the plains and the forests. In recent years it has started to breed in lowland areas again e.g. in Sweden and Denmark.

There was a great decline in Central Europe where they are now essentially restricted to the Apennine, Alps and Carpathian Mountains. In Britain, the last comprehensive survey of Golden Eagles took place in 2003, and found 442 occupied territories.[16] A less thorough survey in 2007 showed that in addition to large numbers of territories in the Scottish Highlands and the Inner and Outer Hebrides, there were a handful of birds in southern Scotland and northern England.[17] Between 1969 and 2003 they nested in the Lake District, Cumbria.[18]

In Ireland, where it had been extinct due to hunting since 1912, efforts are being made to re-introduce the species. Forty-six birds were released into the wild in Glenveagh National Park, County Donegal, from 2001 to 2006, with at least three known female fatalities since then. It is intended to release a total of sixty birds, to ensure a viable population. In April 2007, a pair of Golden Eagles produced the first chick to be hatched in the Republic of Ireland in nearly a century. The previous attempt to help the birds breed at the Glenveagh National Park had failed.[19]

In North America the situation is not as dramatic, but there has still been a noticeable decline. The main threat is habitat destruction which by the late 19th century already had driven Golden Eagles from some regions they used to inhabit.[20] In the 20th century, organochloride and heavy metal poisonings were also commonplace, but these have declined thanks to tighter regulations on pollution. Within the United States, the Golden Eagle is legally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Available habitat and food are the main limiting factor nowadays. Collisions with power lines have become an increasingly significant cause of mortality since the early 20th century. On a global scale, the Golden Eagle is not considered threatened by the IUCN mainly thanks to the large Asian and American populations.

In human culture

1870s illustration of burkut falconers in Eastern Turkestan.

Falconry

Golden Eagles can be trained for falconry.[21] In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, western Mongolia and China, Golden Eagles are still used to hunt.

Heraldry

Main article: Eagle (heraldry) Mexican Coat of Arms

The Golden Eagle is the national bird of five nations, Albania, Germany and Austria in continuation of the Holy Roman Empire,[citation needed] and Mexico and Kazakhstan, the most of any species. The eagle is very much connected to the Saladin Golden Eagle, currently used as the coat of arms of Egypt, Iraq, and Palestine, it was also previously used by Libya, and Yemen.[citation needed]

The Golden Eagle was model for the aquila, the standard of the Roman legions. It is featured in the national coats of arms of Germany, Albania, Austria, Egypt, Mexico, Romania and many other countries.

Religion

In North America

The eagle is a sacred bird in some cultures and the feathers of the eagle are central to many religious and spiritual customs, especially amongst some Native Americans in the United States and First Nations in Canada, as well as among many of the peoples of Meso-America. Some Native American peoples revere eagles as sacred and the feathers and other parts of Bald and Golden Eagles. Feathers are often worn on Native American headdresses and have been compared to the Bible and crucifix of Christianity. Eagle feathers are often used in various Native ceremonies and are used to honour noteworthy achievements and qualities such as exceptional leadership and bravery.

Current United States eagle feather law (50 CFR 22) stipulates that only individuals of certifiable Native American ancestry enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are legally authorized to obtain eagle feathers for religious or spiritual use. Thus, the supply of eagle material for traditional ceremonial use can be guaranteed and ceremonial eagle items can be passed on as heirlooms by their traditional owners without the restrictions that would usually apply. Commercial trade in Golden Eagles or their feathers or body parts is not legalized by these exceptions.[22]

On February 1, 2006 the Director Dale Hall of the USFWS issued a new permit to the Hopi Tribe for 2006. On April 26, 2007 USFWS Deputy Director Kenneth Stansell issued a new permit for 2007. As in the past, the permits authorize the Hopi to take up to 40 golden eaglets.

In keeping with a departure begun in 2003, the USFWS HQ in Washington, D.C., not the Regional Director in Albuquerque, New Mexico, issued the 2006 and 2007 Eagle permits. The Regional Office issued a separate, new permit on March 23, 2007 for the Hopi to take an unlimited number of red-tail hawk nestlings in northeastern Arizona in 2007.

A new aspect of Native American religious eagle gathering is that additional tribes are now taking live eagles under USFWS permits, for the first time. They are:

Jemez Pueblo - In October 2006, the USFWS issued a permit to Jemez Pueblo to capture up to 2 golden eagles in the Valles Caldera National Preserve, administered by the Forest Service, in Sandoval County, New Mexico. The USFWS had previously denied a Jemez request in 2002 to take eagles. In July 2007 Jemez reported that they successfully collected two immature golden eagles.

Taos Pueblo - In February 2007 the USFWS issued a permit to Taos Pueblo to shoot one mature golden eagle on Taos Pueblo Tribal lands in Taos County, New Mexico. An additional permit allows the permittee to transport the taken eagle and its parts anywhere within the United States. Report was due to USFWS by December 31, 2007.

Isleta Pueblo - In April 2007, the USFWS issued a permit to the Pueblo of Isleta to take two mature golden eagles on Pueblo lands in Valencia and Bernalillo County, New Mexico. The Isleta Report is due on March 31, 2008.

In Hinduism Main article: Garuda Garuda, the Vahana of Lord Vishnu

In Hindu religion, Garuda is a lesser Hindu divinity, usually the mount (vahanam) of Vishnu. Garuda is depicted as having the golden body of a strong man with a white face, red wings, and an eagles beak and with a crown on his head. This ancient deity was said to be massive, large enough to block out the sun.

Gallery

Nestling, 14 days after hatching.
Note second egg, still unhatched.

Nestling near fledging, losing down feathers.

Subadult A. c. canadensis in flight, Alaska.
Note white in underwings and tail.

Notes

  • ^ Petersen-Raptors of California
  • ^ Kqed.org, "Cool critters the Golden Eagle".
  • ^ Kqed.org, "fatal attraction birdsd and wind turbines".
  • ^ Ferguson-Lees & Christie, Raptors of the World. Houghton Mifflin Company (2001), ISBN 978-0618127627
  • ^ San Diego Zoo
  • ^ David H. Ellis, James W. Lish, Marc Kery and Stephen M. Redpath (2006) Short-term oscillations in avian molt intensity: evidence from the golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos. Journal of Avian Biology 37:642-644
  • ^ "[Falco] cera lutea, pedibus lanatis, corpore fusco ferrugineo vario, cauda nigra basi cinereo-undulata." - "A [diurnal raptor] with yellow cere, [feathered tarsometatarsus], body dusky brown variegated with rusty, tail black with ashy-waved base." (Linnaeus 1758)
  • ^ Sánchez Marco (2004)
  • ^ Youtube.com
  • ^ Cornell University
  • ^ Sørensen, Ole; Mogens Totsås, Tore Solstad, Robin Rigg (2008). Predation by a Golden Eagle on a Brown Bear Cub. 19. pp. 190–193. 
  • ^ Cornell University
  • ^ [1]
  • ^ Cornell.edu
  • ^ golden eagle. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.
  • ^ Mark Holling and the Rare Breeding Birds Panel Report for 2003-4 accessed 4 March 2010.
  • ^ Mark Holling and the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (2010). "Rare breeding birds in the United Kingdom in 2007". British Birds 103: 45–6. 
  • ^ Mark Holling and the Rare Breeding Birds Panel Report for 2003-4 accessed 4 March 2010.
  • ^ RTÉ News (2007)
  • ^ E.g. Henninger (1906)
  • ^ Gates (1990)
  • ^ USDCDN (1986), USFWS-SR (2001), USFWS-OLE (2004a,b), e-CFR (2008)
  • References

    • BirdLife International (2004). Aquila chrysaetos. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 2006-05-12. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
    • e-CFR (2008): 50 CFR 22 - Eagle Permits. HTML fulltext
    • Henninger, W.F. (1906): A preliminary list of the birds of Seneca County, Ohio. Wilson Bull. 18(2): 47-60. DjVu fulltext PDF fulltext
    • Gates, Alan (1990): The Call of the Wind. Falconers & Raptor Conservation Magazine [1990][verification needed](4). HTML fulltext
    • Linnaeus, Carl (1758): 41.2. Falco chrysaetos. In: Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (10th ed., vol.1): 88. Laurentius Salvius, Holmius (= Stockholm). PDF fulltext
    • Gordon, Seton (1955): The Golden Eagle: King of Birds. Citadel Press, New York.
    • Snow, David W.; Perrins, Christopher M.; Doherty, Paul & Cramp, Stanley (1998): The complete birds of the western Palaearctic on CD-ROM. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-268579-1
    • RTÉ News (2007): Golden Eagle hatches in Donegal. Version of May 30, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2008.
    • Sánchez Marco, Antonio}} (2004): Avian zoogeographical patterns during the Quaternary in the Mediterranean region and paleoclimatic interpretation. Ardeola 51(1): 91-132. PDF fulltext
    • United States District Court for the District of Nevada (USDCDN) (1986): 649 F.Supp. 269 - U.S. v. Thirty-Eight Golden Eagles. Michigan State University College of Law
    • United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS-OLE) (2004b): 16 USC 668-668d - Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Version of March 30, 2004. Retrieved on February 14, 2008.
    • United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS-OLE) (2004b): National Eagle Repository. Version of October, 2004. Retrieved on November 20, 2007.
    • United States Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region (USFWS-SR) (2001): Migratory Bird Feathers. PDF fulltext

    External links

    Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Aquila chrysaetos Wikispecies has information related to: Aquila chrysaetos
    • Photos Hunting with Golden Eagles
    • Golden Eagle videos on the Internet Bird Collection
    • Ageing and sexing (PDF) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta
    • Website on the Golden Eagle maintained by Raptor Protection of Slovakia
    • Åldersbestämning av kungsörn - Aging of Golden Eagles (in Swedish and English)


    Subfamily: Buteoninae Genus Species (extinctions: † indicates a species confirmed to be extinct) Geranoaetus Black-chested Buzzard-eagle Buteo Common Buzzard • Red-tailed Hawk • Long-legged Buzzard • Rough-legged Buzzard • Ferruginous Hawk • Red-shouldered Hawk • Broad-winged Hawk  • Swainsons Hawk • Roadside Hawk • Ridgways Hawk • White-rumped Hawk • Short-tailed Hawk • White-throated Hawk • White-tailed Hawk • Galápagos Hawk • Variable Hawk • Grey Hawk • Zone-tailed Hawk • Hawaiian Hawk • Rufous-tailed Hawk • Mountain Buzzard • Madagascar Buzzard • Upland Buzzard • Red-necked Buzzard • Jackal Buzzard Parabuteo Harriss Hawk Buteogallus Rufous Crab-hawk • Common Black Hawk • Cuban Black Hawk • Great Black Hawk • Savanna Hawk Busarellus Black-collared Hawk Leucopternis White-browed Hawk • White-necked Hawk • Black-faced Hawk • Grey-backed Hawk • Plumbeous Hawk • Mantled Hawk • Barred Hawk • Slate-coloured Hawk • Semiplumbeous Hawk • White Hawk Kaupifalco Lizard Buzzard Butastur Rufous-winged Buzzard • Grasshopper Buzzard • White-eyed Buzzard • Grey-faced Buzzard Harpyhaliaetus Crowned Solitary Eagle • Solitary Eagle Morphnus Crested Eagle Harpia Harpy Eagle Pithecophaga Philippine Eagle Harpyopsis New Guinea Harpy Eagle Spizaetus Black Hawk-eagle • Black-and-white Hawk-eagle • Ornate Hawk-eagle • Black-and-chestnut Eagle Nisaetus Changeable Hawk-eagle • Mountain Hawk-eagle • Blyths Hawk-eagle • Javan Hawk-eagle • Sulawesi Hawk-eagle • Philippine Hawk-eagle • Wallaces Hawk-eagle Lophaetus Long-crested Eagle Stephanoaetus Crowned Eagle • Malagasy Crowned Eagle† Polemaetus Martial Eagle Hieraaetus African Hawk-eagle • New Guinea Hawk-eagle • Ayress Hawk-eagle Aquila Bonellis Eagle • Booted Eagle • Little Eagle • Rufous-bellied Eagle • Golden Eagle • Eastern Imperial Eagle • Spanish Imperial Eagle • Steppe Eagle • Tawny Eagle • Greater Spotted Eagle • Lesser Spotted Eagle • Indian Spotted Eagle • Verreauxs Eagle • Gurneys Eagle • Wahlbergs Eagle • Wedge-tailed Eagle Ictinaetus Black Eagle Haliaeetus White-bellied Sea Eagle • Sanfords Sea-eagle • African Fish Eagle • Madagascar Fish Eagle • Pallass Fish-eagle • White-tailed Eagle • Bald Eagle • Stellers Sea Eagle Ichthyophaga Lesser Fish Eagle • Grey-headed Fish Eagle Harpagornis Haasts Eagle†

    Categories: IUCN Red List least concern species | Buteoninae | African raptors | Aquila | Birds of Asia | Birds of Canada | Birds of Europe | Birds of Mexico | Birds of the United States | Eagles | National symbols of Mexico | Arctic birds | Fauna of ItalyHidden categories: Articles with species microformats | Articles needing more detailed references | All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements from November 2007 | Articles with unsourced statements from December 2009 | All pages needing factual verification | Wikipedia articles needing factual verification from February 2008
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