Aquila chrysaetos, Just Because


Bald Eagles get all the press, but if there is a bird you’d call the most elegant raptor in North America, it’s the Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos.

Golden Eagle in Flight, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

Golden Eagle in Flight, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

It’s the largest North American raptor, with a wingspan that can run to 76 inches. A full-grown female – among raptors, females are generally larger – can weigh 14 pounds.

Golden Egle, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

Golden Egle, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

A deadly beak and extremely impressive talons, WC thinks you will agree. And while they are impressive perched like this, a Golden Eagle is really a creature of flight.

Golden Egle, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

Golden Eagle, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

The long primaries at the wing tips are striking.

Golden Egle, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

Golden Eagle, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

A Golden Eagle against a blue sky is one of the definitions of wilderness for WC.

Golden Egle, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

Golden Eagle, Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho

The species is a victim of humans. Humans account for about two-thirds of the early deaths of this long-lived species. Electrocution, when those long wings inadvertently touch a power line like those in the second photo; collisions with manmade structures, autos and the like; habitat loss and, yes, poaching. Human-altered landscapes, whether deliberate conversion to agriculture or inadvertent introduction of invasive species like cheatgrass, greatly impact jackrabbits and other important prey of Golden Eagles. It’s suspected that Golden Eagle populations are declining.

A Golden Eagle might raise 15 chicks over the course of its life. It’s a significant investment in energy by the parents: it takes six months from egg to fully fledged bird. The slow reproduction rate makes the species vulnerable. No one sensible wants another California Condor.

We live in parlous times. The folks we have tasked with protecting the flora and fauna have betrayed their task. It’s important that each of us refuse to let their behavior continue.

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4 thoughts on “Aquila chrysaetos, Just Because

  1. Great Blog. While “poaching” is not quite as significant a threat as with Long-billed Curlews since they present themselves as “random targets” less often it is still makes me quite “grumpy” when I encounter it.

    I am a hunter and I had a Golden Eagle swoop down and take off with a Gray Partridge I had just shot. That encounter made my day. I had a “hunter” tell me I should have shot the thief … needless to say that “hunter” saw my “grumpy” side.

    I am guessing you meant the largest North American raptor not bird. You mentioned one that has a larger wingspan the California Condor

    https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/California_Condor/id

    As you know Wild Turkeys, Trumpeters and even Canada Geese weigh more. The Trumpeter can even rival them in wing span.

  2. Greetings from another country whose government treats many immigrants and refugees inhumanely. Can WC share his thoughts on strategies we non-elected people can adopt to affect policy change. Vigils, thoughts and prayers and writing to your elected representatives don’t seem to be getting us there and even voting the correct way may or may not tip the balance.

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