The golden eagle prefers open areas with no trees . Because of the climate in western Scotland, these upland conditions are present down to sea level and golden eagles are found in places lower , than in central Scotland. Golden eagles are sensitive to human disturbance and build their nests in bare places. Their territories range in size from 5 – 150 km2. In some areas of Scotland, the breeding density is in the highest in the world and territories are very small. Golden eagles in Scotland do not go traveling and will remain in their breeding territories throughout the year. Young and non-breeding birds avoid occupied territories in their search for suitable breeding
Golden eagles take 3 years to reach maturity and normally do not start breeding until they are 4 – 5 years old. The breeding season continues almost all year. The females starts to lay 1 – 3 eggs in early to mid April and keeps them warm for about 43 days.
When they are hatched, the young spend 9 – 11 weeks in the nest before making their first flight. More often than not, only one chick will survive to leave the nest. It is still not fully understood whether this is because of a lack of food or competition between the young birds.
Young birds will remain in their parents’ territory into the early winter months, begging for food for as long as the adult will continue to feed them. In birds of prey, up to 60 – 70% of all young that leave the nests will not survive their first winter. This figure is probably significantly lower for large raptors such as golden eagles, but a young eagle faces a life or death struggle through its first winter. After surviving that first year, a young eagle may well then live for more than 20 years.
Golden eagles will take any prey that is available, from small birds to snakes. In Scotland, they prefer hares and grouse, and sometimes rabbits. In coastal areas, they prefer fulmars to gulls.