The golden eagle prefers the remote and quiet wilderness as habitat. It feeds on rabbits and grouse, and eats also foxes, cranes and reindeer calves. The nest is generally at the top of a sturdy-branched pine tree, on a cliff wall, or even on a triangulation tower. Usually, a golden eagle couple has a couple of nests, and the nests are used one at a time each year. The golden eagle is a very timid species, easily disturbed by human actions. Disturbance during nesting season may have devastating effects, as the eggs cool off easily when the mother has been chased away. A golden eagle couple is loyal not only to each other, but also to their territory. Young golden eagles, however, may live more wandering lives. In Finland the golden eagle breeds mostly in Lapland; 80 % of the golden eagles in our country nest in the North. Additional breeding areas can be found n the regions of Oulu, in Suomenselkä in the western part of Finland, and in Central Finland.
In Finland the golden eagle is listed as an endangered species. Golden eagles, like other birds of prey, have previously been persecuted, because they hunt for the same game as humans. The golden eagle population has quite probably been at its lowest in the end of the 1960’s; the estimated amount was 150–200 couples. At this period the golden eagle became a protected species. The forestry in Finland bears a great impact on the golden eagle population also: huge wilderness and forest areas, due to selective logging and the forest lorry road systems built around them, turn into restless areas for the golden eagle; even sturdy-branch pine trees won’t have the time to grow to their full size to provide a good nesting spot. Nowadays (2008) there are about 460–470 golden eagle couples nesting in Finland.
ADAPTING TO THE WINTER
The golden eagle is a large bird, catching rabbits and grouse even through the winter. Many of the smaller golden eagles survive on carrion, and disposals they find at some animal feeding places.
CLASS: Aves - birds
FAMILY: Accipitridae - Hawks and eagles
SIZE: Weight: 2100-6700g, wingspan: 183-230cm, females larger than males.
BREEDING: The female lays 2 eggs at the end of March/beginnig of April, incubation period: 38-42 days and nights; also the male hatches the egg.
LIFESPAN: According to ringing data, the oldest golden eagle has lived to the age of 26 years.