The Golden Eagles of Yellowstone


The Yellowstone Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is North America's largest bird of prey. Golden eagles are amazing hunters. It can dive from its flight path at 150 miles per hour. They hunt all sorts of small animals such as rabbits, marmots, squirrels, birds, lizards and small rodents. They will also eat carrion they find. Their beaks are sharp, so tearing meat is no problem.

The Golden Eagle is a large bird. They can have an amazing 6 to 7 foot wing span and the body length can be up to 3 feet long. The adult eagles are usually dark brown but the young eagles have white wing patches with the inner part of the tail also white. They also have a dark brown band spanning the tip of the tail. They get their name from the golden nape on the back of their neck. Golden's can live up to about 32 years in the wild. An interesting fact: the Crow Indian Tribe used the tail feathers of golden eagles to make their war bonnets. The many plains tribes including the local Arapaho and Shoshone tribes, still use the feathers to this day in ceremonies and regalia.

Golden eagles are monogamous and can stay with the same mate for years, and even life. They can nest in trees, cliff ledges or anywhere that is private and safe for their young ones. You might even see a nest on top of a telephone or light pole. They will usually use the same nesting spot year after year and will simply build up the existing nest with new twigs.

I've seen golden eagles in Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley from Grizzly Overlook, near Fishing Bridge and in the northern range around Blacktail Ponds. I've also seen them near Gardiner. If you are in these areas, look up. They can usually be spotted flying high, circling and looking for rabbits and other prey. As a general rule, you won't find them near lakes and rivers like you will Bald Eagles. Golden's don't fish as often.

The article below is about a study of golden eagles. If you are curious about these Raptors, you might find the article interesting. Enjoy! =]:)

Yellowstone's Golden Treasure: Big eagles focus of recent study

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