Golden eagle has wide breeding range

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A wild golden eagle was documented on Mingo National Wildlife Refuge only a few days ago, the morning of Feb. 24. The golden eagle is the largest native bird of prey in North America. An adult's wingspan can reach about 8 feet.

This large bird has a breeding range (where it nests and raises young) that covers Alaska, much of Canada and the western half of the United States. Golden eagles that breed in Alaska and northern Canada are migratory. Southeast Missouri is at the southern edge of this great bird's winter range. The golden eagle recently seen at Mingo Refuge most likely flew here from Canada.

The golden eagle sometimes soars high in the sky in search of living prey to catch and eat. With good eyesight, from a great distance it can spot such prey as a mountain goat, a small deer, a fox, or even a rabbit. Golden eagles also catch and eat fish.

The photo here is of the head of a golden eagle held captive at The World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, Mo., near St. Louis. It is a female named Mariah. It came from California.

There are six subspecies of golden eagles. Some of these are found in Europe, North Africa and Asia. A federal law makes it illegal for anyone to kill a golden eagle anywhere in the United States.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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