Aquila chrysaetos (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Accipitriformes > Accipitridae
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.
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.
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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
|No. occupied in breeding season||406|
|% occupied in breeding season||13|
|No. occupied in winter||417|
|% occupied in winter||14|
European Distribution Map
Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK
|% change in range in breeding season (1968–72 to 2008–11)||+3.9%|
|% change in range in winter (1981–84 to 2007–11)||+11.4%|
Golden Eagles are present year-round in northern strongholds.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
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
|Maximum Age from Ringing||16 years 1 months 9 days (set in 2007)|
|Typical Lifespan||23 years with breeding typically at 4 year|
|Juvenile Survival||0.15 (to age 4)|
|Field Codes||2-letter: EA | 5-letter code: GOLEA | Euring: 2960|
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
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).
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