Golden Eagle - Aquila chrysaetos


The Golden Eagle is an iconic bird of prey which hunts during the daytime. Its name comes from Ancient Greek - khrysós meaning ‘gold’ and aetós meaning ‘eagle’ - in reference to the golden feathers on its head and the back of its neck. For the Aztecs, the Golden Eagle symbolised the sun’s path across the sky. Pairs mate for life. Eaglets only reach adulthood when they are 4 to 6 years old. There are six sub-species of the Golden Eagle. In France, there are populations in the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Mediterranean fringes, Languedoc- Roussillon and Corsica.

First chick hatched at Le Rocher des Aigles: 1997


CLASS : Aves
ORDER : Accipitriformes
FAMILY : Accipitridae
WINGSPAN : 1.90 - 2.30 m
WEIGHT : Male 2.8 – 4.5 / Female 3.6 – 6.5 kg
CLUTCH SIZE : 2 eggs
INCUBATION : 41-45 days
LIFE EXPECTANCY : 38 years in the wild / 50 years in captivity
DIET : medium-sized mammals, rodents, rabbits and also birds and reptiles
NATURAL HABITAT : it favours open, arid regions, mountains, plateaus, steppes and locally marshland. Nesting sites must be isolated and peaceful, such as cliff walls and tall trees; from this strategic position, it can observe its immediate environment.
RANGE : Asia, North America and Europe

Conservation status

Conservation status info

Rocher des Aigles

LC: Least Concern

In the Middle Ages, it was considered to be the bird of kings and killing it was strictly forbidden. Its numbers only really began to fall in the 19th century when the boom in industry and agriculture encouraged ‘pests’ to be hunted down and the Golden Eagle and raptors in general became the target of human persecution. This birdhunt was based on the decree of 12/12/1905 which listed helpful and harmful creatures and so paved the way for a colossal massacre; between 1950 and 1970, several million raptors were killed in Europe (shot, trapped, given poisoned bait and their nesting sites destroyed) and as a result, certain species were wiped out whilst others are still in danger of extinction. The Golden Eagle and raptors were then gradually protected, some of the key moments being the Order of 24/04/1972 repealing the hunting of raptors and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) of 3rd March, 1973 (Washington). Every species of raptor (diurnal and nocturnal) is protected in France by the law of 10 July 1976 on nature protection. Nevertheless, there are continuing threats, such as the illegal use of poisoned bait, poisoning (mainly caused by pesticides), loss of habitat, collisions, electrocutions, culling, poaching and, in some regions of the world, stealing.