Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)


French: Aigle royal German: Steinadler Spanish: Águila real

Falco Chrysaëtos


, 1758,



Has been considered closely related to A. audax, and perhaps also to A. gurneyi. Form kamtschatica very similar to canadensis and often synonymized with it. Ethiopian population provisionally included in homeyeri, but racial affinity requires investigation. A recent mitochondrial DNA analysis based on a large number of samples across the species’ distribution reveals Holarctic homogeneity and a distinct Mediterranean lineage: there is a phylogeographic split between mainly Northern Europe, Continental Asia, Japan and North America on the one hand and Central–Southern Europe on the other, this being likely caused by the Last Ice Age, when the population survived in two reproductively isolated glacial refugia; repopulation of Northern Europe occurred from a presumed Asian refugium, whereas the Alpine range was probably repopulated from a refugium in the Mediterranean region#R. Six subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. c. chrysaetos (Linnaeus, 1758) – NW & C Europe E to W & C Siberia and Altai.
  • A. c. homeyeri Severtsov, 1888 – Iberian Peninsula, N Africa (also scattered in mountains in S Sahara#R) and large Mediterranean islands E through Middle East and Arabia to Caucasus, Iran and E Uzbekistan; possibly this subspecies in Ethiopia.
  • A. c. daphanea Severtsov, 1888 – mountains of C Asia and Himalayas (N Pakistan to Bhutan) to W & C China.
  • A. c. kamtschatica Severtsov, 1888 – W & C Siberia and Altai E to Kamchatka and Russian Far East.
  • A. c. japonica Severtsov, 1888 – Korea and Japan.
  • A. c. canadensis (Linnaeus, 1758) – North America from Alaska and NW Canada S through W USA to C Mexico, and NE Canada E to N Quebec and Labrador; winters locally throughout E USA.
  • Descriptive notes

    66–90 cm; male 2840–4550 g, female 3630–6665 g (exceptionally up to c. 7200 g); wingspan 180–234 cm. Fairly uniform dark brown although crown,... read more


    Usually vocal only around nesting territory. Main call a shrill “kee-yep” or “yep... read more


    Uses a wide variety of open habitats, usually away from humans, e.g. mountains, plateaux and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Prefers medium-sized mammals, mainly rodents, rabbits and hares; also, normally to lesser degree, birds, particularly gamebirds, including... read more


    Laying starts Feb in S Europe and S North America, until May in more N regions. Nests on ledges of cliffs and crags, or in trees, tendency... read more


    Some populations sedentary, others migratory. In northernmost parts of range in North America and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Heavily persecuted in past, with declines in range and numbers in Europe and much of North America, often from 19th century... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Kirwan, G.M., Boesman, P., Garcia, E.F.J. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 July 2019).