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Golden Eagle age?

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 

People have asked me to post more Golden Eagles in regards to ageing. Anyone want to take a guess what age this is, or just flat out tell us what age it is. It's a pretty simple one, or is it? "click" on photo to enlarge this beautiful image by Vic Berardi.

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Blogger Bryce said...

I would say Basic II. Central tail feathers are old, so I don't think it has gone through its second molt there, and it looks as though it has begun its second round of remige molt. An honest guess, but I am trying to get the hang of this.

February 21, 2012 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Groucho said...

3rd year. Closest resemblence to the image in the National FIeld Guide to the Birds of North America.

February 22, 2012 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An adult in active molt?

Robert - Lindenhurst, IL

February 22, 2012 at 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Derek Lyon said...

I don't see any juvie feathers in the tail, so it's an adult now in active molt.

February 23, 2012 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Vic Berardi said...

First off, many thanks to Jerry for posting these raptor ID quizzes!

When I first saw and photographed this bird near Medicine Bow, WY this past July I was convinced it was an adult. But now that it is part of a ID quiz I have to question my original assessment. Although I am not an authority on actively molting birds such as this one, I do still believe it is an adult, or very near adult. I guess what has me a bit confused is 1) the underwing coverts are in active molt showing their white bases and 2) how pale the head appears. This leads me to think it might be an older subadult transitioning (molting) into its first adult plumage.

Also, I did check to see if I had additional photos of this bird that might show more (yeah, that would be cheating :-), but I do not. All the other images I have show only the underside of this bird and this is the sharpest image.

So, I'll go with adult as Robert and Derek have but reserve the possibility of it being a sub-adult IV.

Looking forward to Jerry's interpretation on this one. Being from northeastern Illinois we never see molting Goldens here in the middle of summer so this bird is fun for me personally to both look at and learn from.

Hope Robert, Derek and I are correct on the age ID but will definitely learn something if we are not!!

February 23, 2012 at 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Yes, full adult. The bird lacks any white-based sub-adult feathers.

I'm glad people are interested in this. I'll post more raptor stuff in the future, just busy and can't get around to it often these days.

February 24, 2012 at 8:30 AM  
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