Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

You will not find this bird of prey on exhibit at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, but it is a rare yet memorable visitor to Connecticut.


The Golden Eagle is North America's largest bird of prey. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their head and neck. Weighing 7-14 pounds, the body of these beautiful birds measures 27 to 33 inches, and they have a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet. They can catch their prey at speeds of more than 150 miles per hour.


Preferred habitats include forests, mountains, highlands, and some wetlands.


Golden Eagles are fairly common in the western states, Alaska and western Canada. They range from Mexico through much of western North America.They are also found in Asia, northern Africa and Europe. Pairs of Golden Eagles can maintain areas as large as 60 square miles. They arenot common in the east but do appear during spring and fall migrations .Some Golden Eagles live in their nesting territory all year. Others may migrate due to lack of food during the winter. Many Golden Eagles will leave their northern homes for warmer waters of the lower Connecticut River. Sightings at Eagle Landing State Park in Haddam, CT, are a rare but memorable.


Having extremely powerful talons helps Golden Eagles snatch up a variety of prey, including rabbits, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, marmots and larger mammals such as foxes, mountain goats, pronghorn, coyotes, badgers and bobcats. They will also eat carrion if live prey is scarce.

Life Span: 

Approximately 38 years in the wild and 50 tears under human care.

Family Life: 

Golden Eagles are solitary hunters which often mate for life. They take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the eaglets. Females are larger and can take larger prey. Their smaller mates take smaller prey, giving them a wider range of prey species and a greater chance of survival for their young. They will defend their territory against other Golden Eagles.They 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. The male provides some help with incubation but is the major food provider during incubation and chick rearing. Young reach sexual maturity and obtain adult coloration at about 5 years of age.


Least Concern.