Bald Eagle Vs Golden Eagle: Brilliant Bird Differences Explained

Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Bald eagle vs golden eagle, many differences exist between the two, including their head, tail, and feathers.

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The bald eagle is famously seen as the national emblem of the US; its closest cousin is the golden eagle.

Most people get confused between a bald eagle and a golden eagle. These two eagle species closely resemble one another, but golden eagles are not bald eagles.

There are many differences to help identify a bald eagle from a golden eagle. The main difference is in their color. Contrary to what people believe, the bodies of these eagles aren't black. Instead, they have a dark brown body. A bald eagle's body is equipped with a white head, with the base of the tail also being white. It's considered special because of its distinctive white head, which it developed for evolutionary reasons. A golden eagle's head is dark brown in color, just like its body and wings. An adult bald eagle has a yellow beak, while a golden eagle has a smaller black beak. Those are some of the major distinctions. Keep reading to learn about more differences between a bald eagle and a golden eagle.

If you want to learn more about the national bird of the US, read bald eagle facts. Or consider reading cheetah vs leopard to find out which member of the cat family is the fastest.

Is a bald eagle stronger than a golden eagle?

Strength comparisons are common between similar species. That's why we always compare lions with tigers and not deer. Let's think about the two most common North American eagles: the bald eagle and the golden eagle. Is one stronger than the other?

Both bald and golden eagles are aggressive and agile predators. They possess exceptional skills to hunt their prey. Therefore, it isn't easy to pick a winner, but a golden eagle is considered stronger than a bald eagle for a few good reasons. The first reason is that golden eagles are default terrestrial hunters, whereas bald eagles are occasional terrestrial hunters. Let's unpack this.

The golden eagle is found in a wide range of habitats. From prairies to cliffs and mountain ranges to grassland and coastlines, they can be anywhere. They're also the national symbol of countries like Germany, Mexico, and Kazakhstan. Coming to their diet, golden eagles mainly feed on small mammals, reptiles, and other birds. In some cases, these eagles have even been seen preying on full-grown deer.

To make a hunt successful, they are equipped with powerful talons; their toe joints are more flexible, and their feet muscles are more robust. When they attack a terrestrial animal for food, they use all of these advantages in their favor. Bald eagles, on the other hand, mostly eat fish and other aquatic animals. Therefore, they typically live near a coastal range or other bodies of water. Their feet are rough-padded, which prevents slippage when they hunt for fish in the water. However, their claws and feet aren't as strong as those of golden eagles.

When golden eagles attack, they exert very high pressure. It rips apart the fresh and is enough to crush the spines of small mammals like a rabbit. However, the bald eagle does have an advantage that may make it seem stronger. Bald eagles have comparatively stronger bill and jaw muscles. The stronger bill allows the bird to break open and eat hard-shell seafood like mussels, oysters, and lobsters. Moreover, bald eagles display more aggression and engage in a fight for food with other birds and animals.

How big is a bald eagle compared to a golden eagle in size measurements?

When making a comparison, it's worth looking at the size of both eagle species. The difference between a bald and golden eagle in terms of size is pretty tiny. For the most part, they seem exactly the same.

An adult golden eagle can have a length of between 26-40 in (66-102 cm). The golden eagle is a rather big raptor whose weight falls in the range of 8-11 lb (3.6-5 kg). On the other hand, an adult bald eagle can measure between 27.5-40 in (70-102 cm) and weigh 6.6-13.8 lb (3-6.3 kg). As you can see, there's not much difference between the two birds in terms of body size.

The wingspan of both of these raptor species is identical, with the wings of both bald and golden eagles measuring 70-90 in (1.7-2.2 m) in wingspan. Female eagles are 25% bigger than their male counterparts. So a female raptor has a bigger body, wing size, and wingspan.

The young juvenile birds are a lot smaller than adult birds, and they have smaller wings and wingspans. In their early stages, it's tough to distinguish an immature bald eagle from an immature golden eagle. That's because immature bald eagles do not grow their white head and tail feathers until they're five years old. They do not possess their distinctive white patches, so they look similar to a juvenile golden eagle with a fully dark brown body.

You can only tell a juvenile golden eagle from a juvenile bald eagle once they start growing.

Both golden eagles and bald eagles have almost the same measurements, but the birds with the white feathers are a tiny bit heavier

Do golden eagles and bald eagles mate?

Both golden and bald eagles are found throughout North America. They look almost the same and belong to the same family. But do they ever spend time together?

A bald eagle and a golden eagle do not mate with each other. They live in different habitats and social structures. Golden eagles are solitary birds; they spend most of their time alone. It's only during nesting time that they come together. At the same time, the birds with white patches are highly social. They only live in solitude after they pair with a member of the opposite sex to build a nest.

Golden eagles are territorial and don't like other birds coming into their areas. In comparison, bald eagles are somewhat tolerant. Because of such differences, the golden eagle and the bald eagle do not hang out with each other. They flock together within their species.

They build their nest together with their companions when nesting season arrives. As opposed to adult birds, young, immature bald eagles and juvenile golden eagles are more social and may associate with one another in winter.

There are four species of eagles found in the US, with the other two being the Steller's sea eagle and the white-tailed eagle. As opposed to the golden and bald eagle, these aren't North American birds, so they are not common either. None of these bird species mate with one another.

Bald eagle Vs golden eagle: who would win?

Eagles live within their own habitats, with adult birds protecting their territory.

When there are intruders, a fight may break out between a bald eagle and a golden eagle. If this happens, the dark golden eagle will retreat in most cases owing to the somewhat larger size of the eagle with a white head and feathers. But, if there were juvenile golden eagles or females that needed to be defended, they'd put up a fight.

While the fight could go either way, it's probably the dark golden eagle who would win. That's because they have stronger feet and are more agile and aggressive. Bald eagles are more likely to take flight and leave a fight if they miss an attack, whereas golden eagles would come back to stage a second attack. They'd mostly fight with their wings and talons.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Bald eagle vs. golden eagle: brilliant bird differences explained', then why not take a look at 'Can dogs eat pizza crust? Keep that slice of pizza away', or 'Can chickens eat pears? Explore how to add this healthy fruit treat'?


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