Nature Journal
with Photos

          
Golden Eagle Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
 
General Information
- Very large, broad-winged, broad-tailed hawk
- Sexes similar
- Short, dark, hooked beak with yellow cere

Adult
- Golden feathering on nape
- Plumage almost entirely dark brown, without white in
  underwing coverts
- Two pale brown median tail bands
- Golden band on upperwing coverts

Immature
- Plumage almost entirely dark brown
- White bases to outer secondaries and inner primaries
  produces oval, white patch
- White tail with broad, crisp, dark terminal band

Subadult
- Plumage gradually darkens to resemble that of adult,
  with white in wings disappearing

Similar species
Turkey Vulture has a tiny, unfeathered head, holds its wings in a dihedral and has contrastingly paler flight feathers while Black Vulture has white outer primaries and quite different, snappy wingbeats.

Immature Bald Eagles are similar (very large and dark overall) but differ in fundamental aspects of shape. Golden Eagles are smaller-headed, smaller-billed and somewhat slimmer-winged than Bald Eagles and fly with wings held in a dihedral. Immature Bald Eagles always have patchy white underwings and (occasionally) bellies. Golden Eagles have crisp white patches restricted to the inner primaries and base of tail. Immature Golden Eagles have yellow ceres while immature Balds have dark ceres, a useful mark for perched birds

At great heights, dark morph buteos can be similar but are always shorter-winged with more diffuse white areas on underwings and different tail patterns.
 
 
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