Thursday, 14 February 2013

Golden Eagle - Mexican National Bird

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas. This species was first described by Linnaeus in his 1758 Systema naturae as Falco chrysaetos. The type locality was given simply as "Europa"; it was later fixed to Sweden. It was moved to the new genus Aquila by French ornithologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760. The Golden Eagle is one of the largest eagles in the genus Aquila, which are distributed almost worldwide. The latest research indicates it forms a worldwide superspecies with Verreaux's Eagle, Gurney's Eagle, and the Wedge-tailed Eagle.

Interesting & Amazing Facts About Golden Eagle are:

  1. The Golden Eagle is mostly dark brownish in color with a golden nape, black bands in the tail that are visible in flight, and a relatively small head.
  2. Juveniles have a white base to the tail and white patches at the base of the flight feathers, both of which are evident in flight. 
  3. Golden Eagles lose their juvenile appearance and attain their adult appearance over four years.
  4. This powerful eagle is North America's largest bird of prey and the national bird of Mexico.
  5. They are extremely swift, and can dive upon their quarry at speeds of more than 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour. 
  6. Golden Eagles forage by soaring in search of prey, or by observing from a perch.
  7. Golden Eagles are resident across much of the western U.S. and Canada, and also breed north through Alaska. They winter somewhat farther east than they breed. The population is declining slowly over much of its range.
  8. Golden eagles use their speed and sharp talons to snatch up rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels. They also eat carrion, reptiles, birds, fish, and smaller fare such as large insects.
  9. Golden eagle pairs maintain territories that may be as large as 60 square miles (155 square kilometers).
  10. They are monogamous and may remain with their mate for several years or possibly for life.
  11. Golden eagles nest in high places including cliffs, trees, or human structures such as telephone poles. They build huge nests to which they may return for several breeding years.
  12. Females lay from one to four eggs, and both parents incubate them for 40 to 45 days. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months. 
  13. The young hatch at about 41-45 days, and fledge at about 60-70 days, though remaining dependent on the adults for some time.
  14. The sexes are similar in plumage.
  15. Mongolian falconers have long trained Golden Eagles to hunts foxes and even wolves.
  16. As in many raptors, the female Golden Eagle is larger than the male.
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