Explore the World of Golden Eagles 

Learn about North America’s other native eagle and the ongoing research that is expanding our knowledge of them.

Of the over 60 species of eagles found around the world, the Golden Eagle (Aquila Chrysaetos) has the largest home range. They inhabit four continents in the northern hemisphere, including North America. An upland predator that hunts mammals, Golden Eagles are primarily found in the western half of North America in the mountains and deserts southwest. However, recent observations of the past 25 years have changed our understanding of these incredible raptors and redrawn their range maps in North America. We now know that migratory populations spend the winter months in portions of the eastern United States. The Golden Eagle Project is growing our knowledge and involving citizen scientists to help further our understanding of their behaviors. 

 The Golden Eagle Project

Ongoing research is dedicated to better understanding the presence of Golden Eagles in the eastern United States. Migratory Golden Eagles come to the region each winter from their nesting territory upwards of 2,000 miles away in northern Canada just below the Arctic Circle. Every January on the third Saturday, the Project conducts its annual Golden Eagle Survey. Volunteer surveyors (citizen scientists) spread out over portions of southeastern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa, and northwestern Illinois to count Golden Eagle observed. Results are reported and analyzed to develops a better understanding of these migratory eagles. 

Through observation and research, we now know that these eagles settle into the bluff lands of the Driftless Area during the winter. The Driftless Area is a region not flattened by the glacial ice sheets during the last Ice Age. Specifically, Golden Eagles prefer to hunt game on “goat prairies” or “upland prairies”, the sparsely forested, southern-facing sides of the bluffs. There they hunt rabbits, squirrels, and larger game like Wild Turkey.

The Survey also counts other raptors such as Bald Eagles, Red-Tailed Hawks, etc. to help track the winter populations in the region.

The 20th Annual Golden Eagle Survey

The 20th Annual Golden Eagle Survey is complete! Thank you to our over 200 volunteers who canvassed 92 survey routes. Next year’s survey is scheduled for Saturday, January 18. New volunteers are always welcome and encouraged to email us with their interest. You can express your interest for helping this year by email using the button below.

Golden Eagle Resources

Interested in Golden Eagles? You can access these FREE resources to learn more about past survey results and how to identify these majestic winter raptors in the Upper Midwest. We also have a FREE winter birding checklist for the Upper Midwest region.

Golden Eagle Survey Route Maps

Are you a surveyor and looking for a map of your survey route? Click the button below to view our route map library.

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