Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos

The golden eagle is the top predator in the Scottish countryside; it is a massive bird of prey that mainly hunts rabbits and mountain hares but will also catch foxes, young deer and large birds like grouse. It can be seen soaring high in the sky in upland areas and remote glens in the north and west of Scotland. Golden eagles have large home territories, nesting on rocky cliff faces and in trees where it builds a giant nest or ‘eyrie’. These nests are often used by successive generations to rear their own young. Golden eagles pair for life.


A massive bird of prey, the golden eagle’s wings and tail are only marginally smaller than the rarer white-tailed eagle. Adults are mainly dark brown, with a golden head and neck. Young birds have white patches in their wings and a white base to the tail.


Length: 76-90cm

Wingspan: 2.1m

Weight: 3.7-5.3kg

Average Lifespan: 23 years


Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.


A rare bird of the mountains and moorlands of Scotland.

When to see

January – December


  • The golden eagle is the national bird of Germany, Austria, Mexico and Kazakhstan! It is revered in many countries, forming the basis of everything from coats of arms to spiritual customs. It is even used to hunt and kill wolves in some communities.

Common name

Golden eagle

Species name

Aquila chrysaetos

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Golden eagles have been spotted on Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves like Ben Mor Coigach or Rahoy Hills.

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