The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is a spectacular raptor, skilled at hunting and an adept flier. They are widespread across multiple continents but remain an elusive bird, preferring to dwell in wilder, undeveloped regions.
Golden eagles are found throughout North America and Eurasia. In North America, these massive birds primarily occur in the western states, Canadian provinces, and Alaska. Eurasian populations range throughout northern Europe to eastern Siberia. They also reach south to North Africa.
Small populations of the golden eagle migrate in winter, expanding their range into regions where they do not occur in other seasons. We will discuss the extent of this raptor's range, their habitat, and where they are most common in the following article!
Although golden eagles are mostly associated with open areas, they can be found in coniferous woodlands
The golden eagle has a broad range distribution, primarily occurring between latitudes 20° to 70°N, with some populations reaching farther south. The eagles' primary range includes North America, Europe, and Asia.
Golden eagles in North America have breeding grounds throughout the Canadian provinces and Alaska. They are also common year-round residents in the Western United States and northern Mexico. These birds can be found throughout the lower 48 states during winter, as birds from Canada migrate south to the eastern half of the US.
Eurasian golden eagle populations are generally permanent residents throughout their range. The eagle occurs across most of northern Europe, east through Siberia and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Golden eagles also occur in southern Europe, central and south Asia, and North Africa. One population is known to reside as far south as the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia.
A female Golden Eagle perched with prey
Golden eagles generally prefer open areas for hunting, surrounded by hills, cliff edges, or mountains where they can roost and nest. They are often seen soaring over open grass and shrublands, tundra, desert, or agricultural areas in search of prey.
Despite their strong association with open country, golden eagles utilize a variety of habitats. These birds also reside in coniferous forests or cottonwood galleries along rivers and streams. These areas are common nesting and winter roosting sites.
Though protected, golden eagles are not a threatened or endangered species. Populations are stable and their habitat is wide-ranging, but it is still quite rare to see one. This raptor prefers to stay away from people, sequestering itself in the wilder regions of its range.
The chances of observing a golden eagle are higher in Alaska, Canada, and the western United States, where they are more common. Keep an eye out for one hunting amongst agricultural areas or open grasslands, or use binoculars to observe cliff lines and treetops more closely where a nest could be.
Golden eagle soaring through the sky
Golden eagles range throughout North America. Where you might see one depends on region and time of year. They are permanent residents in most western states and northern Mexico. There are also populations with breeding grounds in all Canadian provinces and Alaska.
Many golden eagles breeding in Canada and Alaska migrate south to the eastern United States during winter. Populations in this region are small and scattered but are generally present between late August and April.
Golden eagles primarily occur in western states. Their eastern boundary stretches south through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Southwest Texas. Golden eagles are year-round residents in all states west of this border.
Wintering populations occur in the eastern half of the United States - particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. Golden eagle sightings in the east are far less common than in the west.
Close up portrait of a Golden Eagle
Golden eagles are found throughout the Canadian provinces but are most common in the prairies and mountains of the west. They also occur widely across Labrador and Quebec.
The golden eagle occurs throughout most of Europe. They are most common in Scandinavia, the British Isles, northern and southern France, Austria, and Italy.
In the UK, the best place to see them is across the highlands of Scotland, and western parts of Northern Ireland, where a resident population can be found.
Golden eagle in the moorlands, Scotland
Populations of the golden eagle occur most commonly in western North America. These eagles prefer the grass and shrublands surrounded by high cliffs and mountainous habitats widespread in this region.
The best place to see a golden eagle is an open area surrounded by high points where the birds can perch or nest. Open grassland or desert scrub habitat provides excellent hunting opportunities for the eagle, as do agricultural areas. When nesting, golden eagles prefer cliff edges or high trees.
Close up front view of a golden eagle
Wintering grounds for the golden eagle in North America include most of the lower 48 states, southern Canada, and Mexico. Populations that spend the summer in northern Canada and Alaska typically migrate south to Midwestern and Northeastern states. In Eurasia, golden eagle populations generally winter in or near their breeding grounds.
In North America, golden eagles are mainly found throughout Canada, Alaska, and the western United States during summer. Their populations are mostly concentrated around the mountains and open country of the west.
Eurasian populations are found throughout the extent of their range in the summer. These areas include Scandinavia, the British Isles, and large swaths of central and southern Asia.
Golden eagle flying low
Golden eagles generally sleep throughout the night. Sleeping locations often include roosts in trees or on cliffsides, under an overhang.
Golden eagles are commonly found throughout the desert regions of the southwest United States and Mexico.
Golden eagles are rare in New York but do occur. In winter, small populations migrate south from Canada to the Northeast. Many of the eagles wintering in New York occur at higher elevations.
Golden eagles are permanent residents in southwestern Texas. Winter populations occur more broadly throughout the state - generally present from late August through April.
Small populations of golden eagles are found in Massachusetts during the winter. They generally reside in open country at higher elevations - near hills, cliffs, and mountains.
Golden eagles are found in New England during winter migration. However, sightings are often rare.
Golden eagles are found in Connecticut in the winter months, particularly during fall and spring migrations. Sightings of these eagles are rare, however.
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