Aquila chrysaetos

Since ancient times, human beings have felt a great fascination for eagles, for their beauty, power… Not in vain, since time immemorial, their emblematic image, which brings together powerful symbols of majesty, preponderance and triumph, has been reflected in numerous cultures. in the world, being the protagonist of national symbols, in flags, heraldic shields and military ensigns. But also, many times, as happens with other species, it has been repudiated by man himself, considering them as rivals in the hunting of game species.

The golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos, is the largest and most powerful of the Iberian raptors, with females being larger than males. For thousands of years it occupied most of the mountainous areas of the Peninsula. Currently, due to human pressure, the habitat of the queen of the Iberian skies has been reduced, although it remains stable. Experts fear that its population will decline in the coming decades.

Their most common prey among mammals are rabbits and hares; among birds, pigeons and partridges stand out, while they also consume some reptiles (ophidians and lizards), as well as carrion.

In winter, with the flowering of gorse, rosemary and heather, the Mediterranean scrub of the Iberian Peninsula presents a chromaticism typical of other seasons.

It is an essentially rock-dwelling raptor that seeks out rugged terrain and rocky cliffs, occupying a wide variety of habitats, provided that the terrain is as steep and abrupt as possible, mainly in quiet territories where nesting can be carried out, while avoiding masses of birds. extensive forests.

As has happened with other emblematic species such as the brown bear, the wolf, the lynx, the bearded vulture and other predators, the golden eagle has suffered severe persecution since the 17th century, culminating in the period between 1960-1990, where The indiscriminate use of poison to kill the so-called vermin was on the verge of ending the species. Other factors that affect its population is the loss of habitat due to various constructions in its natural space, as well as hunting pressure or the plundering of its nests.

It has a cruising flight that reaches 50 km/h, it can reach 190 km/h when hunting, and reach up to 320 km/h in a steep descent, thus exceeding the fall speed of the peregrine falcon.

Each pair usually occupies a territory with areas ranging from 20 to 200 square kilometers. And they are usually aggressive towards their ‘invasive’ congeners.

Their reproductive cycle begins at the end of January with the nuptial stop. The clutches are produced from the end of February to the end of March, and consist of one to four eggs, matte white in color and with reddish-brown spots.

Incubation, in which only the female is involved, lasts between 41 and 45 days. In 90% of cases they build the nest in rocks located between 200 and 2,200 meters above sea level. The nest is made up of a solid structure of branches, lined with grass and even wool. The two parents are responsible for its construction for about four to eight weeks, although it is the female who does most of the work.

The chicks are cared for by both parents and continually monitored by the female, with some help from the male, until they are 14 days old. The two adults feed them until they are 30 days old, and from that moment on they feed on their own.

The plumage fully develops in about 67-80 days. After leaving the nest, the young remain attached to the adults for about three more months, and then they disperse and look for their own territory. They do not reach sexual maturity until they are six years old.

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