Majestic Golden Eagles

blog post photo

© Bryan Bedrosian

America’s wild west – a place seeped in myth and legendary in the history books. But many animal species native to this range have been misunderstood and threatened by humans over the years, like the golden eagle, puma, rattlesnake, wolf and bison.

The golden eagle is a swift-flying, majestic bird. It’s wingspan can reach lengths taller than an adult human, and it will dive at prey at speeds more than 150 miles per hour. And despite weighing just about fifteen pounds, golden eagles have been reported attacking full grown deer.

The golden eagle patrols a territory as large as 60 square miles, and they nest in tall trees, cliffs and telephone poles. While some of these predators migrate, others  – such as the birds that live in the western United States – tend to stay in their range year-round.

In the wild, a healthy golden eagle can live up to thirty years, oftentimes spending multiple years with the same mate. Some golden eagles may even mate for life.

To the Native Americans, the golden eagle was viewed as a symbol of spiritual power. At present, only Native Americans can legally own a golden eagle feather. And although these raptors are protected by law, golden eagles are vulnerable to the black market, where their feathers can fetch up to $10,000.

In addition to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, these magnificent, enormous birds of prey are threatened by habitat loss. But research has also shown that golden eagles are susceptible to lead poisoning. This contamination may be caused by the raptor scavenging on gut piles left by rifle-using hunters.

Fascinated by the golden eagle? Download a photograph of this majestic bird for your desktop wallpaper and print out this coloring book page for the kiddies.

And get up close and personal to six of the wild west’s most iconic and dangerous animals, such as rattlesnakes, golden eagles, wolves and bison. Dangerous Encounters: Wild West airs TONIGHT at 8 PM et/pt on Nat Geo Wild.

Video Preview: “Golden Eagle Snare”