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Golden Eagles:

Most people and particularly bird watchers would consider a day with a Golden Eagle coming into their range of vision a very special day.  We are fortunate here in New Mexico as Golden Eagles are resident throughout much of the state.  In one of our study areas in the central part of the state near the mountain ranges including the Sandias and the Manzanos (an extension of the southern Rocky Mountain Flyway) Golden Eagles have been seen in every season, often during various surveys we have been conducting, since at least 2008.  They are usually observed more often in winter months.  So this year we set out to investigate areas that contain good or acceptable breeding habitat to see if perhaps there was a breeding pair.  We started surveys in January and continued our observations until early May.  Golden Eagles  occupy territories of variable size depending on the conditions of the habitat.  In New Mexico’s landscape, most Golden Eagles build their nests on cliffs or canyon walls.   Eagles that breed in New Mexico remain on territory throughout the year.  Our observations confirmed this as one pair was observed, on a number of occasions, defending their territory and chasing other eagles, probably migrants, out of their territory.  However, after targeted ground searches we concluded that there were no active nests this year.  Inactive nests were found in two different locations supporting the notion that they have in fact bred in this area in the past.  Some years they do not lay eggs, especially years when jackrabbit prey may be at a low point in its cyclical period.  We learned a lot through hours of observations and hope to continue monitoring their behavior in the future.