Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos)

NH Conservation Status: Endangered

Federal Status: Not listed; Golden eagles are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.

Distribution: May be seen during migration. Successful breeding has not occurred in NH since 1956. Three historic nesting locations are known in the state: 2 in the White Mountains and 1 in the Lake Um­bagog region. The New Hampshire Bird Records Database for 1990 to 2004 includes documentation for 1 to 5 golden eagle sight­ings annually during fall migration (except 2002), single sightings during spring migration in 4 scattered years, and single July sightings in 1991 and 1998.

Description: 27-33” long with a 72-86" wingspan. Dark brown overall with a golden sheen on top of the head and neck and buffy orange feathers on the underside of the tail.

Voice: Most commonly heard during the breeding season as nestlings wail for food and adults respond with a “wip” or a “wonk” sound.

Commonly Confused Species: Turkey vultures are similar in body size and color but have a distinct bare, red head.

Habitat: Open areas secluded from people such as bogs, marshes or clearcuts.

Nesting: Golden eagle pairs may mate for life. They build their nests on cliffs and often will reuse the same nest each year. The female lays 2-3 eggs in May or June and chicks hatch after 43 days of incubation. Fledglings leave the nest when they are between 65-70 days old.

Diet: Primarily feeds on small to medium sized mammals such as hares and cottontails, squirrels, weasels, skunks and mice.