Friday, October 24, 2014

Identyfying the Golden Eagle in Manitoba

Early spring and late fall is the time to be on the look out for Golden Eagles, a very uncommon species in Manitoba. Of course, you always have to be careful to distinguish immature Bald Eagles from Goldens (probably at least 99 out of every 100 brown-headed eagles you see in Manitoba will be immature Bald Eagles) so I am sharing these four photos of a Golden Eagle (prob. 2nd cycle), two perched from front and back and two in flight showing underparts and upperparts. I photographed this bird on a Nature Conservancy of Canada property south of Riding Mountain National Park in early October (thanx Sandra for the nudge – better late than never, eh!)

Things to look for include in this series of images:
*    golden nape patch of GOEA shows in all plumages but can be hard to see on a soaring bird (always look for this feature)
*    small-headed appearance of GOEA, esp. in flight (BAEA head and bill more elongated and “stick out” more from body)
*    the tail pattern of GOEA is distinctive but be aware of the difference between immature that show a very distinctive white band and adults that show much less white in tail (subtle bands) and compare the extent of white in the various plumages of immature Bald Eagle
*    larger size of GOEA sometimes useful but difficult to judge in field and , as always with raptors, be aware of size difference between the sexes
*    typically darker colouration of GOEA than immature BAEA, although this can be tricky to judge under field conditions

Also worth noting:
*    size compared to Canada Geese in photo (they were passing by – eagle not chasing them)
*    regrowing primaries on this bird that give the wing an odd shape
*    for ageing of this bird, look for the limited white in the underwing and the partially translucent effect at the base of the primaries, along with a relatively limited amount of white in the tail (e.g. note how when viewed from underside no white visible but when fanned and viewed from above a white band is clearly present, even though not quite as extensive nor as defined nor as contrasting as a first year bird) and also more gold in the shoulder than a first year bird
*    the sheer awesomeness of this creature!








All the best to all the best!

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