Europe, North Asia, North America, North Africa, and Japan


Mostly mountainous areas with temperate weather

The brown and the beautiful

Golden eagles are large birds of prey that belong to the hawk and eagle family. They are now primarily mountain dwellers but at one time also lived in forest and plains areas. With broad, rounded wings, the colors of their feathers range from black-brown to dark brown, along with a striking golden head and neck that give the bird its common name.

Super vision

Eagles can see much better than a human with perfect vision can. Golden eagles have large eyes that take up most of the space of the eagle's head. Their keen eyes can see clearly and in color, allowing the eagle to see movement from a long distance.

Although golden eagles can see extremely well during the day, they can see no better at night than we can. Their eyes don't move much in the eye socket, but an eagle can rotate its head about 270 degrees, just like an owl can, to look around. Golden eagles also have a clear eyelid that protects their precious eyes from dust and dirt.

Golden eagles can reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour) during a dive in play or after prey.
In central Asia, golden eagles are sometimes trained for falconry. Hunters in Kazakhstan still use these eagles to catch deer and antelope.
Eagles have about 7,000 feathers.
The talons of a golden eagle are thought to be more powerful than the hand and arm strength of any person.

A golden eagle lives off exhibit at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

In past years, thousands of golden eagles were killed where sheep are raised, because ranchers thought they preyed on young sheep and goats. Most of the eagles were shot from airplanes. Yet when studies were done, there was no evidence that the eagles attacked sheep or other livestock; instead, it was found that rabbits were the eagles' main food source.

Unfortunately, many golden eagles are still killed by ranchers or by others for their feathers. Dozens of eagles are also killed each year when they land on exposed power lines, are captured in traps set for other animals, or are poisoned by tainted bait or lead shot buried in their prey.

You can help us bring eagle species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.