• Caitlin Kennedy

Regal Eagle

By Caitlin Kennedy

Val d’Isère was host to some captive Golden Eagles as part of a falconry display this week. We took the opportunity to celebrate the town’s emblem and take a deeper look at the majestic birds that keep watch from their lofty flight above us.

Bucking the trend in the animal kingdom, the females are bigger than the males with the boys weighing in at 2.5 to 4kg and the girls at up to 6.5kg. The wingspan of female golden eagles can be up to 2.5m.

They can have territories up to 200km2 in size. It can take juveniles 4 to 5 years to establish a new territory for themselves

Golden eagles have large eyes that take up most of the space of their heads. Their keen eyes can see clearly and in colour, allowing the bird to spot movement from up to a mile away. Their eyes don’t move much in the eye socket, but an eagle can rotate its head about 270 degrees, just like an owl, to look around. Golden eagles also have a clear eyelid that protects their precious eyes from dust and dirt.

The male often puts on an aerial exhibit as part of his courtship. He folds his wings and drops head-first until close to the ground, when he spreads his wings to soar aloft and repeat the action.

Golden eagle couples are monogamous and may mate for life. They often return to the same nest for several breeding seasons. Females lay between 1 and 4 eggs, and both parents incubate them for 40 to 45 days. The chicks, called eaglets, hatch in the order laid. The oldest chick often attacks and sometimes even kills its younger siblings.

The golden eagle is the most common national animal in the world, with five nations- Albania, Ge