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Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaëtos)


Name Derivation:

Golden: describes the plumage color on the back of the head and neck.
Eagle: from Middle English egle or Old French egle, aigle derived from Latin aquila meaning "eagle".
Aquila: Latin meaning "eagle".
chrysaetos: from the Greek roots khrysos meaning "golden" and aetos meaning "eagle".

Other names:

Ring-tailed Eagle, Black Eagle, Mountain Eagle; Spanish – águila real.


Class: Aves; Order: Falconiformes; Family: Accipitridae

Key Identification Characters:

Large size; adult plumage dark brown with golden-buff colored feathers on crown and back of neck; tail entirely brown; immatures with variable amounts of white at base of tail and primary feathers; male and female similar. Length, 30"; wingspan, 79".


Europe, Asia, North Africa, North America southward to central Mexico.
El Paso Region: uncommon resident, with some increase in numbers during winter with migrants; nest on a regular basis.


Ground squirrels, rabbits, other medium-sized mammals, some birds, carrion when available.


Number of eggs/clutch: range 1–4; generally 2; egg: white with blotching, spotting, and speckling of light brown and clouded with shades of gray and lilac; 2.90" x 2.50"; nesting: tree and cliff nester with twigs and branches layed together in a large pile about 8' in diameter, lined with finer material like plant parts, rabbit fur, some mosses, eagle down (from young); nest often used year after year.


American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Check-list of North American birds, 6th ed. Allen Press, Lawrence, 877 pp.

Burton, P. 1983. Vanishing eagles. Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 140 pp.

Fisher, J. and R.T. Peterson. 1977. World of birds. Crescent Books, New York, 191 pp.

Peterson, R.T. 1990. A field guide to western birds. Third ed., Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 432 pp.


Contributor: Scott M. Cutler, Curator of Collections and Exhibits; Curator of Ornithology