|The Golden Eagle is sometimes referred to as the king of birds. With a 'crown' of golden feathers on the back of its head, it is certainly majestic in appearance. Apart from its head, the golden eagle is mostly brown, though young birds have some white feathers. They have light brown eyes and fully-grown birds have an impressive 2-metre (6.5ft) wingspan. Golden Eagles mainly feed upon mammals (rabbits,hares and occasionally foxes), birds (grouse and ptarmigan) and carrion (lambs and deer that have perished in the winter.)
Golden Eagles are found in North America, Europe and Asia. In Britain they are mostly confined to the Highlands of Scotland, its north-western coast and the Hebrides. Golden Eagle populations have suffered greatly due to persecution from egg-stealers, farmers and gamekeepers who used to kill them as pests. After being given full legal protection, numbers continued to be affected by poisoning from the cumulative effects of agricultural pesticides.Total population in Britain is slowly recovering and now totals about 450 pairs.
Golden Eagles have been trained for falconry since prehistoric times. The Kirghiz tribe in Mongolia trained them to hunt deer and wolves. Golden Eagles are not strong enough to kill a full-grown deer or wolf, but can hold one down until the hunter arrives on horseback to finish it off. The Kirghiz no longer hunt wolves, but still hold contests to show off their prize eagles. Falconers today rarely keep Golden Eagles. They are very expensive and difficult to train, and there is not much habitat left to fly them in.