Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Status in the Checklist Area - Rare*

A large raptor similarly sized to Bald Eagles. Prefers highlands and more barren and remote locations. Usually found in such locations and are rare elsewhere such as valley bottoms. However, one or two are almost an annual visitor in the valleys during the winter months. They feed on mammals such as rabbits and marmots and large birds including grouse and ducks. Carrion is also eaten but not as readily as Bald Eagles. Some migratory movement occurs from northerly birds coming south in the winter. Breeding activity has been recorded in our checklist area up around Cheam Ridge.

Similar Species:
Due to large size, Golden Eagles are not likely to be confused with hawks. Juvenile Bald Eagles, however are similar and are often mistaken for Golden Eagles. Note the mottled white throughout the body, especially on the under wings, tail and breast on juvenile Bald Eagles which is lacking on Golden Eagles. See photos below.

Juvenile Golden Eagles usually have well-defined white patches on their carpal joints (at the base of the primary feathers on their wings) which is most visible from below. They are always white on the upper half of the tail. This white contrasts abruptly with the brown bottom half of the tail. Golden Eagles are otherwise dark brown with a golden wash on the nape of their neck. Adults lack the white found in juveniles. In flight, wing shape can also provide a clue. Golden Eagle's wings can appear broader at the tips and bulge along the secondaries (see photo below) more than the more slender Bald Eagle wings. This is not always evident. Soars with wings in slight 'v' similar to but less than seen in soaring Turkey Vultures. Bald Eagles soar with flat wings.

Best Viewing Locations:
During the summer a hike up Cheam Mountain has been fairly reliable for this species. In the winter, East Chilliwack and Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford often have had at least one over the last few years.

Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, (1988)
Sibley, D. (2000)

Noteworthy Data
January 21, 2014 Sumas Prairie, Abbotsford T. Beeke Two adults, at times perched closely together in the same tree.
January 06, 2013 Sumas Prairie, Abbotsford G. Gadsden One to two birds seen into February 2013.
November 13, 2012 Banford Road, Chilliwack G. Gadsden Juvenile perched regularly on the same poles until last sighting February 4, 2013.
August 24, 2011 Needle Peak, Coquihalla G. Gadsden Adult soaring overhead.
February 06, 2010
Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve, Chilliwack B & J Clayton Juvenile. Seen by three different people in three locations in Greendale and Yarrow. Last sighting 16 Feb 2010.
January 28, 2010
Hopyard Hill, Agassiz
M. Brown
Two adults and a juvenile soaring together.
January 03, 2009
North Parallel Road, Abbotsford
C. Jury
Recorded on Abbotsford/Mission Christmas Bird Count
November 19, 2008
Kilby, Harrison Mills T. Gueck Juvenile photographed
October 10, 2008
Cheam Ridge, Chilliwack
G. Gadsden Adult soaring
July 12, 2008 Cheam Ridge, Chilliwack D. Beeke Adult
December 18, 2007 Island 22, Chilliwack G. Gadsden Juvenile photographed while feeding on a salmon carcass.
May 23, 2007 Cheam Lake Wetlands, Popkum G. Gadsden Adult perched in a cottonwood tree. Photographed.
September 09, 2006 Cheam Ridge, Chilliwack G. Gadsden Adult and two juveniles
August 12, 2006 Cheam Ridge, Chilliwack G. Gadsden Adult being harassed by Cooper's Hawk adult.
September 08, 2005 Cheam Ridge, Chilliwack G. Gadsden Adult soaring with Juvenile
January 21, 2001 Whelpton Road, Agassiz G. Gadsden
J. Osterhold
Juvenile. Was reported in area several days prior.
Audio and Video    
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