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golden eagle


They range across Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America. In the UK, they are predominantly found in the Scottish Highlands.


These large birds prefer mountainous, often treeless habitats, although they require large trees or rock faces for nesting.

biological characteristics

Adults are a uniform brown colour with a paler brown head, but juveniles have a white patch on the base of the tail and on the underside of the wings. They have a square tail and fully-feathered legs. Golden eagles hunt for mammals such as rabbits, hares and young deer. They also hunt birds (particularly grouse), and very occasionally feed on reptiles. They often feed on carrion (particularly sheep and lambs). There are about 440 pairs in Scotland and generally just one pair in the Lake District.

conservation status

Protected under Schedule I Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Annex I of EC Birds Directive and Appendix II of the Berne Convention.


  • The golden eagle is also known as the war eagle because native American Indians used golden eagle feathers in their war bonnets.

  • The eagle's ability to see detail at a distance is quite extraordinary. Its vision is binocular, which means it is capable of altering focus from two feet to two miles.

  • They are resident birds and therefore do not migrate.

  • Some eagle nests have been dated using carbon dating technology and are known to be used for over 800 years.

fact file

The European eagle owl cannot be found in the wild in the United Kingdom (unless they have been illegally released), as they were heavily hunted                          during the 19th Century.