Aquila: Golden Eagle

Aquila is a female Golden Eagle

Aquila was found near Redding, California with a gunshot wound to her left wing, which was so severe, the wing had to be amputated. Since she cannot fly at all, Aquila is non-releasable. She has lived at CRC since June 1982.

Until 1989, Aquila was a taming* bird. After she was retired, she became a display bird, greeting visitors as they enter the grounds. Although she cannot fly, she is remarkably strong and agile and can leap from platform to platform, all the way to the top of her cage. From this perch, she likes to peer into the sky and all around the CRC.

For years, we thought Aquila was a male. She is small for a golden eagle, and in this species, as with most raptors, the females are up to one-third larger than the males. In 1995, however, Aquila laid an egg!

Since then, every spring Aquila spends her time trying to build a nest with the twigs and sticks we give her. She has even served as an excellent foster mother, successfully raising an orphaned eaglet, feeding it bits of her own food. That young eagle was successfully released back into the wild. 

Aquila may well be an old bird. She came to us with adult feathering, a process that takes eagles at least four years to complete. They may live 12 or 15 years in the wild. But in captivity, they can reach age 50 or more.

Golden Eagles are found world-wide. They hunt large mammals, from Jack Rabbits to, in some countries, small deer. They nest in tall trees or on cliffs, and raise one to two young a year.

* Taming is the process of teaching a bird to stay perched on your gloved fist. The bird is fitted with special leather bracelets around the ankles, to which jesses, a swivel, and a leash are attached. This equipment keeps the bird from flying away or from injury if it should become agitated.

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