Topic: Environment & ecology
Golden eagle is a real beauty of the Turkmen mountains and deserts. These eagles stately hover over the expanses of the Karakum Desert, riparian forests of the Amudarya and the Kopetdag and Koytendag Mountains. They can be seen also in the shore of the Caspian Sea.
The bird can easily be referred to large feathered birds. Its look symbolises power and strength: in length golden eagle is almost a metre, its weight is about 7-9 kg, and its wingspan is 2 metres. What is notable is that female birds are larger than male ones. Its claws are larger than those of other eagles. On its back golden eagle has dark brown feathering and on its belly red-brown. A quite big “hat” on its head formed of lengthy golden-yellow feathers make it different from other eagles.
Golden eagle does not like long flights. It tries to stay close to its nest. The birds prefer to nest in the mountains, rarely in the desert. Thus, in south-west Kopetdag golden eagles appeared in different biotopes: foothills, central part of the Sumbar-Chendyrsk zone. However, the predators prefer rocky ledges in gorges and middle belt of the mountains located 10-20 m over the land surface and higher for nesting. During this period, in the Kopetdag Mountains birds keep to the nesting place at the tops of the mountains 2,000 metres higher than the sea level. During cold time and non-breeding season, the birds migrate in their search of best settling areas.
Golden eagle is the most energetic and powerful predator, therefore it hunts average-size mammals. However, despite belief, it is beyond its power to take away a sheep – it is too small for this.
Golden eagle hunts in pairs. Their families have strong ties – male and female birds live together for years. Golden eagle is one of the earliest nesting birds. They start nesting in February or beginning of March and sometimes in January. The birds are tied to their old nests and try to stay on forever. Nests (usually a family might have up to four nests) are placed amidst cliffs, ruins, in haloxylon woods, trees and power transmission facilities. These huge constructions are made of heavy trunks of trees, their diameter is up to 1.5 metres and height is 0.5 metres. Inside such “birds’ house” can be covered with camel wool and reinforced with clay. In this or that nest they lay one (if birds are young), or two-three eggs. Brooding lasts about one month, and during additional 2-2.5 months, parents feed their nestlings.
Golden eagle comes of age at the age of two; however, only at its fourth or sixth year of life it forms a family. During draught, when the number of mammals is quite small, golden eagle does not nest.
Science and life proved that predators are an important link in wildlife. They hunt primarily sick and weak animals, support number of rodents at necessary ecosystem level. Golden eagle is inscribed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan and other countries of the world.