At a Glance

This magnificent bird is widespread in the wilder country of North America, Europe, and Asia. About the same size as the Bald Eagle, the Golden is less of a scavenger and more of a predator, regularly taking prey up to the size of foxes and cranes. The Golden Eagle was important to many Native American tribes, who admired the eagle's courage and strength, and who ascribed mystical powers to the bird and even to its feathers.
Hawk-like Birds, Hawks and Eagles
Low Concern
Desert and Arid Habitats, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Forests and Woodlands, High Mountains, Saltwater Wetlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets, Tundra and Boreal Habitats
Alaska and The North, California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Flap/Glide, Soaring

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Northern birds are migratory, mostly moving late in fall and early in spring. In western United States and southwestern Canada, many adults may be permanent residents, but young birds may migrate south in fall.


30-41" (76-104 cm). W. 6' 6 (2 m). Very large, mostly dark brown. Long broad wings held flat while soaring. Adult solid brown with golden feathers on nape, faint pale bands on tail. Immature has white patch in center of wing, white base of tail. Compared to young Bald Eagle, Golden looks a bit longer-tailed, smaller-headed, with slightly smaller bill. Young Balds show at least a little white mottling on body or wing-linings (visible in flight) in areas where lacking on Goldens.
About the size of a Heron
Black, Brown, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Broad, Long, Rounded
Tail Shape
Rounded, Square-tipped, Wedge-shaped

Songs and Calls

A high-pitched kee-kee-kee; also a high scream or squeal, but usually silent.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat
Call Type
Croak/Quack, Odd, Scream, Trill


Open mountains, foothills, plains, open country. Requires open terrain. In the north and west, found over tundra, prairie, rangeland, or desert; very wide-ranging in winter, more restricted to areas with good nest sites in summer. In forested eastern North America, often hunts over marshes or along rivers.



2, sometimes 1-3, rarely 4. Whitish to buff, marked with brown. Sometimes one egg in the clutch is unmarked. Incubation is by both parents (female does more), 41-45 days.


Female remains with young most of the time at first, while male does most hunting, bringing prey to nest. After young are half-grown, female also does much hunting. Age of young at first flight roughly 60-70 days.

Feeding Behavior

Searches for prey by soaring high or by flying low over slopes; also watches for prey from high perches. When prey is spotted, eagle plunges to capture it in talons. Members of a pair sometime hunt together, with the second bird capturing prey that evades the first.


Mostly small mammals. Typically preys on mammals ranging in size from ground squirrels up to prairie-dogs, marmots, and jackrabbits. May take smaller rodents (voles and mice) or larger animals such as foxes, young pronghorns, or young deer on occasion. Also eats birds, mostly gamebirds such as grouse but rarely birds as large as cranes or as small as sparrows. Also some snakes, lizards, large insects. Will feed on carrion, including dead fish.


May mate for life. In courtship, 2 birds circle high in air, making shallow dives at each other. Display to defend territory includes repeated high flight followed by steep dives, loops, rolls, and other acrobatics. Nest site is most often on cliff ledge, also frequently in large tree, rarely on ground. Sites may be used for many years. A pair may have 2 or more alternate nest sites, using them in different years. Nest (built by both sexes) a bulky platform of sticks, lined with weeds, grass, leaves, moss. New material added each year, and nest may become huge.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Has undoubtedly declined from historical levels, but current populations thought to be stable. May not be able to tolerate human disturbance near the nest.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Golden Eagle. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Golden Eagle

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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