Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos (Linnaeus, 1758) EA GOLEA 2960
Family: Accipitriformes > Accipitridae

Golden Eagle, Sarah Kelman

These majestic birds are restricted to the Scottish highlands and islands, with just a few pairs breeding in southern Scotland and the north of Ireland.

The Golden Eagle population remains broadly stable, despite ongoing persecution, numbering in the range of 400 to 500 breeding pairs, with a much small but growing population in Ireland – the result of a successful reintroduction programme.

Our Golden Eagle population appears to be self-contained, with no evidence of interchange with those elsewhere. The European distribution is split into two bands, running east west and associated with the upland regions at the north and south of the Continent.


Golden Eagle identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Golden Eagle.

related video

Identifying Eagles

Golden Eagle. Photograph by Sarah Kelman

Eagles are simply magnificent, and the assumption is that they will be easy to identify. But distant views of birds can lead to confusion with Buzzard, and now we have to consider two species of eagle - Golden and White-tailed. Here we look at how you can confidently separate all three species of large raptor.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Golden Eagle, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Begging call

Alarm call


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



This species is monitored by intermittent single species surveys. The most recent of these in 2015 produced an estimate of 508 breeding pairs and suggested that numbers had increased slightly over a 33 year period (+16%) (Hayhow et al. 2017).


Golden Eagles are found throughout the Scottish Highlands and on most Hebridean islands.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Golden Eagles are present year-round in northern strongholds.

Weekly occurence of Golden Eagle from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Golden Eagle, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Iolaire-bhuidhe
Welsh: Eryr Euraid
Catalan: àguila daurada
Czech: orel skalní
Danish: Kongeørn
Dutch: Steenarend
Estonian: kaljukotkas e. maakotkas
Finnish: maakotka
French: Aigle royal
German: Steinadler
Hungarian: szirti sas
Icelandic: Gullörn
Irish: Iolar Fíréan
Italian: Aquila reale
Latvian: klinšu erglis
Lithuanian: kilnusis erelis
Norwegian: Kongeørn
Polish: orzel przedni
Portuguese: águia-real
Slovak: orol skalný
Slovenian: planinski orel
Spanish: Águila real
Swedish: kungsörn
Folkname: Erne


Interpretation and scientific publications about Golden Eagle from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The increases in Golden Eagle numbers have been attributed to reduced persecution following improved legal protection and increased monitoring, but persecution may still be limiting on the population in the central and eastern Highlands (Hayhow et al. 2017). The key recent constraint on populations has been persecution associated with grouse moor management (Whitfield et al. 2004, 2006). A limited number of territories may have been abandoned due to the planting of conifer forests but there is no strong evidence to suggest that recreational disturbance or changes in carrion abundance drive population changes (Whitfield et al. 2007).

Links to more information from

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