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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Golden Eagle

Hebrides Bird Sightings : Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos

Gaelic: Iolair-dhubh

 

Photograph © Debbie Bozkurt
North Uist - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
13th August, 2006

 

Our Golden Eagle photographs

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Isle of Lewis
June 2006
Golden Eagle
North Uist
August 2006
Golden Eagle
& Hooded Crows
size comparison
Golden Eagle
Isle of Harris
April 2007
Golden Eagle
& Common Gull
size comparison
May 2007
Golden Eagle
South Uist
December 2007
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Lewis
February 2009
Golden Eagle
Lewis
February 2009
Golden Eagle
June 2009
Full moult
Golden Eagle
June 2009
Full moult
Golden Eagle
June 2009
Full moult

 

  • Golden Eagle
  • Aquila chrysaetos
  • Gaelic: Iolair-dhubh
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 442 breeding pairs (summer) BTO
  • UK: Resident breeder
  • WI: Uncommon resident Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs)
    The Outer Hebrides breeding population is of national importance
  • Breeding: Nest made of branches. High in trees or on cliffs. Builds several nests which alternates use of. Nest up to 2m across & 1m tall. Breeds at 4yrs. Mates for life. Lays 2 eggs. Incubated for 45 days. 50 days later young take first flight. Resident breeder in Europe, Asia, North America
  • Habitat: Tundra, open coniferous forest , open moorlands & mountains, islands, remote glens
  • Diet: Mostly mammals or birds, some as carrion (rabbit is usually max size of prey)
  • Huge bird, up to 1m (3 ft) length and 2 m (7 ft) wingspan. In UK only White-tailed Eagle is larger. Colour range black-brown to dark-brown. Often with lighter patch on upper wings. Golden-buff crown & nape. Immature birds resemble adults, but duller & more mottled. Juveniles have white tail with black band. White diminishes with every moult until full adult plumage with all-black tail is reached in 5th year. Bill downward-curving, yellow near head with grey-black tip. Feet have knife-like talons. Females up to ¼ larger than males.
  • Max recorded age 32yrs.
  • Listen to a Golden Eagle (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Buzzard, White-tailed Eagle

 

 

Golden Eagles are adept at soaring and gliding on air currents looking for prey. When soaring they hold their wings in a shallow V-shape . They use upcoming warm air masses to send them spiraling high up into the sky. When going up, they tend to fly upwind. Despite their big size, they do not have to move their wings intensively. They can travel a long distance at great speed with just a few (seemingly slow) flaps. If they need to go down, they tuck their wings in and dive down. Sometimes they fly low to surprise prey.

In good weather in winter and early spring Golden Eagles perform acrobatic aerial courtship displays with looping and plunging flights.

Golden Eagles have traditional territories and nesting sites. They build immense nests from branches and twigs on cliff faces and in treetops, the same nest may be used by many generations of the Eagles and be much as two metres in diameter and a metre tall.

 

Two or more eagles are called an aerie, convocation, jubilee, soar, or spread of eagles

 

Golden Eagle records in the Western Isles

Uncommon resident Breeder (10-99 breeding pairs)
The Outer Hebrides breeding population is of national importance
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

Estimated 30 breeding pairs in the islands ?


On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Golden Eagle is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)

 

Threats to the Golden Eagle Population

Egg thieves are still a major problem, in 2001 an egg collector from London was arrested for disturbing Golden Eagles. He was trying to steal eggs from a nest on South Uist.


There is a BBC article written in 2008 about another egg-collector caught with more than 7,000 eggs in his collection,  653 of those eggs were from the UK's most protected species such as the Red-necked Phalarope. He also had eggs from Barn Owls, Golden Eagles, Ospreys, Choughs, Peregrine Falcons, and almost 40 Black-necked Grebe's eggs. (RSPB estimates there are only 40 - 60 breeding pairs of Black-necked Grebes in the whole of the UK....)

 

  • Keep your eyes open for trouble.
  • Quickly phone the police or RSPB if you are at all worried about the safety of the eagles.
  • Don't tell people if you know where there are Golden Eagle nests
  • If you know where the Golden Eagles are breeding do not take photographs of them on the nest. Disturb breeding Eagles and you are going to be arrested ...
  • Don't mention where you have seen Golden Eagles during breeding time - (locations where the birds of prey have been sighted at breeding time are kept vague on our bird sightings page).

A lot of people think that egg-collecting does not happen anymore, it is an archaic thing to do in these enlightened times - but sadly the rarer a species becomes the greater a target it is ...

 

 

Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

Debbie's online photo album


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