Species At Risk

Golden Eagle

(Aquila chrysaetos)


Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle occurrences map


The Golden Eagle is one of Ontario’s largest and most powerful birds of prey. The species is named for the golden-brown feathers on the back of its neck, head and upper wings, but the rest of the body is mostly dark brown. Young birds have lots of white visible on the base of the tail and in the interior of the wing, but this white will largely disappear by their fifth year. Juvenile Bald Eagles can look very similar to Golden Eagles, however, the legs of the Golden Eagle are completely feathered while the legs of the Bald Eagle have no feathers immediately above the feet. When soaring, Golden Eagles hold their wings slightly above the horizontal and show less head and neck and a longer tail than the Bald Eagle.

Action we are taking:


In Canada, Golden Eagles are most common in the western mountains and prairies but are also fairly widespread in Labrador and Quebec’s Ungava peninsula. In Ontario, breeding Golden Eagles are presently known only from the Hudson Bay Lowland, although there is some evidence suggesting they once nested much further south. Currently there are believed to be 10 to 20 pairs in the province.


Golden Eagles nest in remote, undisturbed areas, usually building their nests on ledges on a steep cliff or riverbank, but they will also use large trees if needed. Most hunting is done near open areas such as large bogs or tundra. During migration they could be encountered anywhere, but are most frequently seen migrating west along the shores of Lake Ontario and Erie in November. Small numbers also winter in the southern half of Ontario, most often near large deer wintering areas where carcasses might be found.


Golden Eagles are very sensitive to disturbance near their nests and could abandon them if harassed or kept away from the eggs or young too long. They have also suffered greatly from human persecution, such as illegal shooting and trapping, although with improved attitudes toward predators in general, these problems have diminished greatly in recent decades. Electrocution on power lines is a continuing problem in western North America, and collisions with wind turbines have been documented at some sites. The Golden Eagle can also be harmed by chemicals and toxins in the animals that it eats.


The Golden Eagle and its habitat are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. This species has also been designated as a Specially Protected Bird under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Golden Eagle

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Golden Eagle . You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Bird Studies Canada is working to advance the understanding, appreciation and conservation of wild birds and their habitat in Ontario and elsewhere. For more information on how you can help, visit: www.bsc-eoc.org.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.

Did you know?

Increasing numbers of sub-adult Golden Eagles are spending the summer along the Hudson Bay coast, where they hunt the abundant snow goose at their nesting colonies.

Did you know?

The Golden Eagle has a wingspan of just over two metres and can weigh as much as six kilograms!

Did you know?

The number of Golden Eagles being seen at traditional Ontario hawk migration monitoring stations has increased greatly in the past two decades. In the fall of 2008, several stations on Lake Ontario and Erie reported more than 50 in one day – a number that would have seemed unbelievable even a decade ago!

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.