Facts About the Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle Populations

The golden eagle is the most numerous and widespread of all large eagle species in the northern hemisphere.  They typically select open country in the western United States, Canada, and Alaska for habitat. However, the distribution of this species and its habitat are decreasing within its range.  Golden eagle populations within California have declined since the 1940s, especially in urban areas and areas that are rapidly developing.

Hunting & Nesting

Golden eagles are considered birds of prey because they use their keen eyesight to hunt and feed on a variety of prey, such as small mammals like ground squirrels and jackrabbits.  Areas selected by the birds for building large stick nests are usually locations inaccessible to predators, such as cliffs, tall trees, and high tension towers.  The nesting period generally ranges from January 1 to July 1, with peak activity from mid-February through April.


Golden eagles are masters at soaring.  With their large wingspan - 6.5 to 7.5 feet - these birds can soar for long periods of time with little wing flapping.  They may catch rising masses of warm air to carry them upward in a spiral fashion high into the sky.  If the bird spots prey while soaring, it can tuck its wings and swoop at speeds up to 200 miles per hour to claim it.  If you are close enough, the bird may sound like a low-flying, small airplane.  The birds may also hunt from a favorite perch.

For More Information

If you would like to learn more about the golden eagle, please contact the Environmental Programs Division at 925-833-6650.