Physical Characteristics of a Golden Eagle

The golden eagle is found in western parts of North America.
The golden eagle is found in western parts of North America. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

The golden eagle is well-known for its speed when attacking prey. The golden eagle sweeps down at speeds of 150 miles per hour to surprise and catch their prey. Although fully capable of preying on larger animals, this bird prefers to focus on smaller animals such as dogs, rabbits and squirrels. Its physical characteristics make the golden eagle a beautiful and majestic bird.


North America's largest bird, the golden eagle, has a body covered with dark brown feathers. The golden feathers found around the head and nape of their neck are what give this regal bird its name. However, before reaching maturity, this bird looks slightly different. The younger golden eagle has white patches in its wings as well as white feathers along its base and tail. It's legs are also bare. It takes the golden eagle four years to reach maturity and abandon its white feathers.

Beaks and Talons

The golden eagle needs both its beak and talons for feeding. The beak color ranges from blue to a bluish black hue. The beak and talons of this bird are both extremely sharp. This is mandatory for the golden eagle to be able to feed. Talons are sharp claws found in the back of the eagle's feet. The golden eagle uses its talons to capture and carry its prey. Once it has hold of its meal, the talons are used to kill the prey before eating.


The stature of the golden eagle is only increased by its massive wingspan. The average size of a golden eagle's wingspan is 6 to 7 1/2 feet. The length and broadness of their wings allow this bird to stay in the air for hours. For this reason, the golden eagle is considered to be a glider. Given its gliding technique, the design of many modern day airplanes have been influenced by this bird.

Differences between male and females

Size is the biggest difference when comparing male and female golden eagles. Females are notably larger than their male counterparts. This is common in most birds in the raptor family. A female golden eagle usually weighs 40 percent more than a male and has a 10 percent larger wingspan. On average this bird weighs in at a range of 7 to 13 lbs. Golden eagles are monogamous and usually stay with their mates for life.

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