Rabu, 20 April 2011

Birds - The Golden Eagle

The golden eagle is one of the largest birds of prey; the bald eagle and the California Condor are the only ones that are larger. This bird lives in the western Northern Hemisphere flying over prairies, tundra, barren areas, and in hilly mountain regions. Golden Eagles do not congregate in large numbers; they are solitary birds and will fly alone for the winter.

The Golden Eagle has a large hooked bill, and it is dark brown all over, but has a green sheen on its head. Its wings and tail are very long and broad, which can be seen when it's flying high in the air. The Golden Eagle is sometimes mistaken for a Buzzard when it is high in sky, but once the long wings and the head come into focus, it will be obvious that it is an eagle
Prey for the Golden Eagle consists of many animals. While it can attack large prey like cranes and domestic livestock, it tends to eat smaller animals like rabbits, hares, squirrels and prairie dogs. A Golden Eagle needs a huge territory of around 3,000 acres to fly over and hunt. When it finds prey, it will soar from the sky at speeds of 150km/h striking the prey with its sharp talons. 
Spotting its prey while high in the air is not a problem for the Golden Eagle, it has keen eyesight that allows it to see small animals such as mice or lizards. The Golden Eagle catches most of its prey on the ground; however, it sometimes catches birds while they are in flight. The eagle cannot attack a large animal; when it finds a large animal such as a deer, it will only eat it as carrion.

The Golden Eagle population decreased during the nineteenth century because farmers shot them. In the 1960s, the Golden Eagle, along with other birds, were affected by dangerous chemicals. A number of animals in the Golden Eagle's habitat ate one the chemical called DDT, which had been sprayed onto plants, and since the Golden Eagle was on the top of the food chain, it greatly affected them. Today, Golden Eagles remain protected by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and possession of any body part or a feather could lead to a fine or even up to 10 years in prison.

Golden Eagles live throughout the Northern Hemisphere. When identifying a golden eagle, look for an all over brown color and a hooked bill so that you do not confused it with a Buzzard when they're flying. Golden Eagles are also one of the few birds that have legs feathered all the way to their toes. It is also one of the largest birds of prey, and with binoculars, you can spot them flying in prairies, and tundra areas. Although DDT greatly affected the Golden Eagles, they have since increased in population, and there are plenty still around today.

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