In addition to the national flag, coat of arms, and a national anthem, a country may also use a national animal to represent itself. Different countries use different animals to signify their beliefs and the values they stand for. The national animal of Germany is the Golden Eagle. The eagle symbolizes courage, strength, and victory. Many prominent people in Germany, including kings as far back as Charlemagne, used the eagle as their symbol. The use of the eagle persisted through the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1933 and was also used by the Nazis. The eagle has also featured on Germany’s coat of arms for over 800 years.
The golden eagle is one of the popular birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere and the among widely distributed species of eagle. It belongs to the family Accipitridae. The golden eagle makes use of its agility and speed, combined with its massive talons and powerful feet to attack a variety of prey. Due to its hunting skills and prowess, this species of eagle is highly regarded in some cultures. It is also one of the widely studied species of raptor in the world.
The golden eagle is a huge dark-brown raptor. Its wings range from 26 to 40 inches in length and from 5 feet to 7 feet in wingspan. Its wingspan is the fifth largest among the extant eagle species. The largest male and female species weigh 7.9 and 11 pounds. The eagle has a long, straight powerful hind claws that can range from 1.8 to 2.5 inches. Both sexes have similar plumage. The female eagles are slightly larger than the males across all the subspecies. Adult golden eagles are usually dark brown with a golden color on the back of the crown and nape. There is usually a slight difference in coloration among the subspecies. The juvenile eagle is almost similar to the adult only that it tends to be darker. The bill of the golden eagle is dark at the tip.
Golden eagles have broad and long wings with a finger-like indentation on the tip. They often fly with the wings held in slight upturned V. They rarely flap their wings during flight and if they do so, it is often their most labored. A typical flight speed is about 28 to 32 miles per hour but when hunting, it is capable of attaining up to 120 miles per hour. When diving towards the prey, it holds its wings tight and partially closed against the body and the legs up against the tail.
Habitat and Diet
Golden eagles are common in areas with few shared ecological characteristics. They hunt in open and semi-open areas and often avoid developed areas like urban centers. Most of the subspecies are found in the mountainous areas with most of the eagles nesting and hunting on a rock formation. They can maintain a home range of as large as 77 square miles. They hunt mainly during the day but some have been recorded to hunt one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset, especially during the breeding season. A fully grown eagle requires about 250 grams of food per day but can also go for a week without food.