Hunting and Feeding
This bird flies up high over slopes while looking for prey. It perches on high grounds as it watches prey. After spotting prey, the eagle swoops down to catch it using its talons. They also hunt in pairs where the second eagle captures the prey that gets away from the first eagle. The golden eagle mostly eats small mammals. These include ground squirrels, prairie dogs, marmots and jackrabbits. Golden eagles can also decide to take larger rodents like young deer, foxes and young pronghorns. It also eats other birds like grease, sparrows and even cranes in some occasions. The golden eagle also eats snakes, large insects and lizards. It also feeds on carron even dead fish.
Their nests are found on the cliff side, in a large tree or on the ground in rare occasions. These sites can be used for years before moving to another nest. Couples or a pair have two nests which are used at different seasons. Nest building is done by both sexes using bulky sticks, grass, weeds, leaves and moss. New nesting material is added each year thus making the nest bigger. Eagles seek out open areas as well as vegetation. However, they tend to avoid human population. They avoid urban settings, agricultural fields and highly forested regions. Today, a large number of golden eagles are found in mountainous regions. They can hunt in rock formations and breed in lowlands where suitable.
Breeding and Socialization
Timing for mating and egg laying vary with location. The female lays up to 4 eggs for hatching. These are usually white-brown color mixture. Both parents are involved in the incubation process which takes 41 to 45 days. Golden eagle chick can be heard from the egg fifteen minutes before hatching. The young stay with their mother at most times while the male goes out hunting for prey. The female start hunting after the young are half-grown. The young start flying after 60 to 70 days with the help of their parents. Mating between eagles is usually for life. During courtship, two birds circle the air while diving shallowly on each other. The male can pick up a rock or a small stick and drop it while diving to catch it in mid-air. The females takes takes a clump, drops it and catches it in the same fashion. Copulation lasts 10 to 20 seconds. Golden eagles also defend their territories spectacularly using steep dives, rolls, loops and acrobatics.
When placed in natural conditions, eagles tend to live long. Survival directly related to body size. One golden eagle was marked and discovered 30 years later. In North America the oldest age of an eagles was 23 years. There are others who survived 46 years in Europe. Survival rates also vary with age where juvenile eagles die at higher rates. Both sexes survive equally. Golden eagles are rarely killed by other predators like wolves, snow leopards and bears. Nestlings are more prone to attacks.
Humans and Eagles
There are cases where the government permits the killing of golden eagles which interfere with wind turbines. Golden eagles have been used for sport hunting. The introduction of fire arms saw the killing of many golden eagles.
Golden eagles are colorful birds which prefer living in high places. They are monogamous in nature and stay together for life. Breeding happens mostly in spring with spectacular activities. Golden eagles are also territorial in nature with many instances of confrontation. Eggs are incubated for six weeks after which the first chick is hatched in at least 40 days. They avoid urban areas, commercial plantations and thick vegetation. They are highly regarded among tribal cultures due to their power and appearance. In terms of population, eagles are not considered threatened or engendered species.