Eagles, majestic symbols of freedom and power, have long captured the fascination of bird lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
In Georgia, two awe-inspiring species of eagles grace the skies: the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle.
This article offers a concise overview of these incredible birds, highlighting their distinctive features, habitats, and behaviors, as well as the conservation efforts in place to ensure their continued presence in Georgia’s diverse ecosystems.
Types of Eagles in Georgia
1. Bald Eagle
It is possible to see Bald Eagles throughout Georgia during the whole year; however, from the middle of April through the middle of May, the number of bald eagles seen in the state significantly increases.
Bird watchers across the state have included them on around one percent of their summertime checklists and four percent of their wintertime checklists, respectively.
The American Bald Eagle is a species of bird of prey that is well-known all across the world.
The top of its head is white, both of its eyes are yellow, and it has a huge, hooked yellow bill.
It has golden legs that are armed with enormous claws and a chocolate-brown body having tan markings.
Females are around twenty-five percent bigger than males, but otherwise, they have the same appearance as males.
Before they reach their fifth year, juveniles possess bodies and heads that are dark brown and may possess varying white mottling or streaking on them.
The United States is home to the majority of Bald Eagle breeding territories, but these birds go to Canada in the fall to begin their annual migration south.
On the other hand, some individuals choose to stay permanent residents throughout the year, particularly in seaside areas.
During the time of year when it is nesting, the American Bald Eagle is most likely to be found in areas that include wetlands.
The best places to fish are found in open, expansive water bodies that have a wide variety of species.
When they are breeding, roosting, or nestling, Bald Eagles want tall, mature, and massive trees for optimal vision.
They also necessitate a wide structure that allows the Bald Eagles to view the rainforest.
Finally, Bald Eagles should be close to water, particularly when they are nesting.
During the winter months, bald eagles will congregate in areas that have a high concentration of perches close to bodies of water that are not frozen over and have an abundance of fish.
When there is no accessible supply of unfrozen water, Bald Eagles may cluster in open grasslands with animals of medium size such as grasslands and pastures.
These types of habitats include areas where grasses grow.
Eagles of the Bald Head are opportunistic eaters, meaning that they will consume whatever food is readily available in their surroundings.
Fish is their preferred meal, and the larger species, such as salmon and trout, are their favorites to eat.
They could catch these fish themselves by hunting, or they could take them from the nests of other birds.
Carrion, often known as dead fish, is something that they will sometimes consume.
In addition to that, they consume birds ranging in size from medium to huge, such as geese, ducks, herons, and owls.
When the fishing industry is not as profitable during the winter season, bald eagles switch their focus to hunting animals for their food source.
They will focus their attention at first on prey that is either sick or young or weak and dying.
They are interested in hunting beavers, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and young deer.
The squeaking of the Bald Eagle is not commensurate with its size, as they create a whistle that is really dishearteningly high in pitch!
The nests of bald eagles are enormous and very strong so that they can accommodate their massive bodies and the weight of their young.
The stick nest that they construct is about 7 feet in diameter and 3 feet in height.
The female gathers all of the necessary components, which may include moss, sticks, feathers, and grass, while the male is responsible for bringing all of the necessary supplies.
It is generally agreed that the nests of bald eagles are the biggest of any bird found across North America.
In the wild, females might hatch anywhere from 1 to 3 eggs throughout the course of a single year.
They are capable of laying anything from 1 to 7 eggs when kept in captivity.
During the first 35 days of egg development, both parents will take turns tending to the nest and tending to the eggs.
Whoever is not currently guarding the eggs is given the opportunity to search for food in order to provide for the others.
Since the year 1782, the American Bald Eagle has served as the USA’s official national emblem.
It may have the moniker “bald,” but contrary to its name, it does not have hair on its head.
The original meaning of “bald” was “white,” which refers to both the head and the tail of the animal, which are white.
2. Golden Eagle
There have been several reports of Golden Eagles throughout Georgia throughout the winter months of November through February, and most of these sightings took place in the northern part of the state.
However, Golden Eagles aren’t seen visiting Georgia very frequently.
The Golden Eagle is the species of eagle that may be found in the widest range of habitats across the globe.
When seen in the correct light, their crest and nape (which is also known as their neck) have a golden brown color, making them an impressive sight.
Their flying plumage is lighter in color than the rest of their bodies, which are a deeper brown color.
Their eye color may range from a pale yellow to a deep brown.
They possess a black tip to their bill, and also, the tip of their beak, which is called the cere, is yellow.
The cere is the skin that joins to the skull on the beak.
Adults of both sexes have the same general appearance; however, females are much bigger than males. Juveniles are quite identical to adults, although they possess a tendency to have a deeper hue, and their backs may occasionally almost seem black.
They also possess white spots on the base of their wings and perhaps some white color on their tails.
There are six subspecies of the Golden Eagle, and they are as follows: the Iberian Golden Eagle, the European Golden Eagle, the Kamchatkan Golden Eagle, the North American Golden Eagle, the Japanese Golden Eagle, and the Asian Golden Eagle.
The primary ways in which they differ from one another are, first and foremost, in their sizes and, second, in the minute ways in which their feather colors might vary.
During the winter months, Golden Eagles travel from their breeding grounds across Alaska and Canada to their wintering grounds in the United States and northern Mexico.
Golden Eagles, on the other hand, spend the whole year in the western states of the United States.
Golden Eagles like to live in environments that are quite hilly and are found well above the treetops.
When they are breeding, they may also be found on canyons, bluffs, and cliffs that are located along rivers. In most cases, they will go out of their way to avoid being with others.
If you’re not afraid of heights and want to see what a day in the life of a Golden Eagle looks like, then you should watch the movie that’s been provided below; however, you should only do it if you’re not afraid of birds!
Golden Eagles are prey birds; thus, it stands to reason that their prey would consist of creatures ranging in size from tiny to medium, such as rabbits, prairie dogs, and hares.
They are also capable of hunting and killing bigger prey, such as domestic animals, swans, and cranes, on rare occasions.
They almost often hunt in groups, with one member of the group pursuing the target until it becomes exhausted, at which point the other member of the group will pounce on it and finish it off.
The Golden Eagle’s primary calling period occurs during the mating season when the young are pleading with their parents for food, and the adults are responding to them.
Aside from that, they are not very vocal. They produce whistling sounds at a very high frequency.
The nests of Golden Eagles are often found on rocky outcrops or cliffs at quite high heights.
However, they may also construct them in trees or manmade buildings like lookout buildings, nesting sites, and even windmills.
They are constructed on a lofty perch in order to provide the parents with a commanding view over the territory in which they raise their young and search for food.
The construction of a nest for a golden eagle out of sticks and other plant material might take somewhere between 1 to 3 months.
They go so far as to cover their nests using scented leaves in order to ward off insects and other unwanted guests.
These nests are kept and reused for a number of years, during which time the adults keep adding new materials to them, causing them to expand in size.
The female will lay anything from 1 to 3 eggs, and both the male and female will take turns incubating the eggs for a period of 41 to 45 days.
After 38 hours, the child will emerge from its egg and become independent.
The Ferruginous, Rough-legged Golden Eagles are the sole prey birds native to the United States that have plumage covering their legs and feet all the way down to their toes.
In conclusion, Georgia is home to two majestic and awe-inspiring types of eagles, the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle.
Both species play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem and are true symbols of strength and freedom.
It is essential to promote awareness about their habitat, behaviors, and conservation efforts to ensure their continued survival and well-being.
By doing so, we not only preserve these magnificent birds for future generations to enjoy but also contribute to the overall health and biodiversity of Georgia’s natural environment.
Where can I spot these eagles in Georgia?
Bald Eagles can often be found near lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, while Golden Eagles are more likely to be seen in open country, forests, and mountainous regions. Prime locations for birdwatching include state parks and wildlife refuges.
What is the difference between Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles?
Bald Eagles are distinguished by their white head and tail feathers, while Golden Eagles have a dark brown body with golden-brown feathers on their head and neck. Bald Eagles primarily eat fish, whereas Golden Eagles have a more varied diet, including mammals and birds.
Are both types of eagles protected species?
Yes, both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States, which makes it illegal to harm, harass, or kill these birds.
What can I do to help protect and conserve these eagle species in Georgia?
To help protect and conserve these eagle species, you can support local conservation organizations, report any illegal activities against eagles, maintain a safe distance while observing them in the wild, and promote awareness about their conservation and importance to the ecosystem.
How can I identify if an eagle is a juvenile or an adult?
Juvenile Bald Eagles have mottled brown and white feathers and lack the distinct white head and tail of the adults. They attain their adult plumage at around 4-5 years of age. Juvenile Golden Eagles have white patches at the base of their tail feathers and on their wings, which disappear as they mature.
When is the best time of year to spot eagles in Georgia?
Bald Eagles can be spotted year-round in Georgia, but the best time to observe them is during the winter months (December to February) when they are more active in their nesting territories. Golden Eagles are more elusive and are primarily seen during the winter months as they migrate to the area from the north.
Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin