Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for




Date of this Version

January 1994


Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus and Aquila chrysaetos) are the largest bird of prey in North America. Golden eagles in North America occur in greatest numbers from Alaska southward throughout the mountain and intermountain regions of the West and into Mexico. Eagles frequent a wide variety of habitats. Although regional and seasonal differences in food habits exist, golden eagle prey consists mostly of small mammals such as jackrabbits, cottontails, prairie dogs, and ground squirrels. Eagle courtship displays consist of a series of “roller coaster” dives and other aerial maneuvers. Juvenile golden eagles leave the nesting territory as early as May in the Southwest and as late as October or November in the North. Research indicates that golden eagles are maintaining static populations in areas undisturbed by humans. Golden eagles are more likely to prey on livestock than are bald eagles. Both bald and golden eagles and their nests and nest sites are protected by the federal Bald Eagle Protection Act and state regulations.