Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles

Eagle is the common name for a number of diurnal birds of prey, some of which are the largest members of

their family which also includes kites, hawks, buzzards, and certain vultures. The name eagle is somewhat

loosely applied, as several of the groups are not particularly closely related to one another, and some birds

called hawks are larger than some called eagles. The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus Leucocephalus) and the

Golden Eagle (Aquila Chrysaetos) are two eagles that have several of the same characteristics and have

several different ones as well.

The Bald Eagle is the only eagle species living strictly in North America, and has a presence in every state

in the US except Hawaii. Young (immature) Bald Eagles are light gray when hatched, and turn dark brown

before leaving the nest at about 12 weeks of age. During their third and fourth years, Bald Eagles have a

mottled brown and white color under their wings and on their head, tail and breast. The distinctive white

head and tail feathers do not appear until they are 4 to 5 years old. Bald Eagles range from about 29-42

inches long, and can weigh between 7-16 pounds, and have a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet. This makes them one

of the largest birds in North America. Bald Eagles residing in the northern US are larger than those that

reside in the south. They have a life span of up to 30-40 years in the wild and longer in captivity. Bald

Eagles are monogamous and remain faithful to their mate until death. Females lay one to three eggs

annually, and the incubation period is approxim!

ately 35 days. Only about 50% of Eagles hatched survive the first year. Strong endangered species and

environmental protection laws, as well as active private, state and federal conservation efforts have brought

back the USA's Bald Eagle population from the edge of extinction. There are now about 4500 nesting pairs

and 20,000 total birds in the lower 48 states, and there are over 35,000 Bald Eagles in Alaska. America's

Bald Eagles are back in strong numbers today, but they are still a "threatened" species in the lower 48

states. Breeding season last from November to April. Bald eagles mate for life and use the same nest each

year. They build a huge nest (aerie) of sticks and twigs in a tree, or on rocky cliffs and average in size of 2

feet deep and 5 feet across. The nest takes weeks to construct and is increased yearly. Eventually some

nests reach sizes of more than 10 feet wide and can weigh several tons. Bald Eagles feed primarily on fish,

but also eat small animals (ducks,!

coots, muskrats, turtles, rabbits, snakes, etc.) and occasional carrion (dead animals). Eagles swoop down to

seize fish in their talons and carry it off, but can only lift about half of their weight. Bald Eagles can even

swim to shore with a heavy fish using their strong wings as paddles. However, it is also possible that they

can drown if the fish weighs too much.

The Golden Eagle is a large brown and golden colored eagle that can be found in a variety of habitats in the

western North America region including mountainous areas, canyons, shrub-land and grasslands. The

Golden Eagle can also be found in Europe, Asia and northern Africa. The breeding range in North America

includes north central Mexico, the western United States as far east as the Dakotas, Kansas and Texas, also

Alaska, and across northern Canada. This bird of prey can weigh up to 15 pounds and can have a wingspan

of 6 to 8 feet and a length of 30-40 inches. Females are often more noticeably larger than males as is true

with most birds of prey. Young (immature) Eagles have a patch of white on the tail, and the adult tail is

gray and brown. The Golden Eagle also builds large their nest out of sticks and twigs in a tree or on a cliff.

The female lays 1-4 eggs (usually 2) and often does most of the incubation. The males provide most of the

food while the females feed and tend!

the young. Golden Eagles feed primarily on mammals