Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist • 50(2): December 2018


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Author David H. Ellis and illustrator N. John Schmitt deliver precisely what is promised in Behavior of the Golden Eagle: An Illustrated Ethogram. This “little volume,” as the author coins it, represents a single source for defining, identifying, and describing behaviors of the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). With the inclusion of Schmitt’s exceptional drawings, the book is a piece of art, as well as the most useful manual describing Golden Eagle behaviors. Nearly four decades earlier, Ellis (1979) authored the very first Golden Eagle ethogram—the set of repeated standard behaviors for a species called action patterns—and in his new book, he has now synthesized and refined these descriptions to provide the true essence of the species in a format that is widely accessible and useful for many other species.

Ellis has published more than 100 papers on birds of prey and has studied Golden Eagles across the world in their extensive northern circum-hemispheric range. As author of Enter the Realm of the Golden Eagle (Ellis 2013), he collected and contributed to a nearly 500-page non-fictionalanthology of accounts of the Golden Eagle in its habitats around the world. Schmitt, a decorated wildlife artist and biologist, specializes in scientifically accurate depictions of birds. Among other products, his artwork is highlighted in two field guides on raptors in different parts of the world (Clark 1979, Clark and Schmidt 2017). In Ellis and Schmitt, we see a pair of highly qualified individuals collaborating to produce a remarkably unique view of Golden Eagles and their behaviors.