Questions about Eagles (FAQ)

Here are two videos of Martin with Scout our Golden Eagle Wildlife Ambassador. In these videos Martin answers a whole lot of questions about Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles, as well as other frequently asked questions. Please see all questions listed below each video. If you have more, please send them to us at info@gowildlife.org.

Scout the Golden Eagle

Scout joined the Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah in 2016 when he was approximately 3 years old. Scout was a rescue animal. A rancher in Wyoming was complaining that an eagle was a threat to his livestock. Martin traveled to rescue him before he got shot.

Since 2016, Scout has been both a falconry bird and an educational bird. He goes with Martin to countless educational presentations and also gets to fly free and hunt and be a wild Golden Eagle.

Martin Tyner

Since age twelve, with a bird on his arm, Martin has captivated audiences sharing his knowledge and experience of his wildlife friends.

At age nineteen, Martin was hired as curator of birds of prey at Busch Gardens, CA. He also worked in the movie and television industry training big cats, elephants, primates, sea mammals and raptors.

Martin is a federally licensed falconer, eagle falconer, wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife propagator, and wildlife and environmental educator.

Learn more

To learn more about Martin, please check out his site here.
To learn more about Scout, please check out his playlist here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions Asked

  • 0:00-3:24 – About Scout the Golden Eagle
  • 3:24 – Why are they called Golden Eagles?
  • 3:41 – Do you bathe him? Does he bathe?
  • 4:09 – How big are males and females?
  • 4:29 – How much does he eat?
  • 4:50 – Does he lose feathers? What do you do with them?
  • 5:27 – How did you get Scout?
  • 5:57 – What are the differences between male and female?
  • 6:22 – When they mate, do they stay together all the time?
  • 6:49 – What is their lifespan?
  • 7:12 – How long did it take you to establish your relationship with Scout?
  • 9:42 – Do you work with Owls?
  • 10:02 – Does he have problems with feather growth?
  • 11:44 – Why would a bird always have one feather missing?
  • 12:30 – Do Eagles have problems with Ravens?
  • 13:29 – Why doesn’t Martin wear gloves?

Questions Asked

  • 1:00 – Intro & About Scout and Martin
  • 3:07 – Scout in the house
  • 3:50 – What is the largest prey Scout can catch?
  • 4:40 – Is falconry in decline?
  • 6:00 – What does Scout eat?
  • 6:40 – What is it about Golden Eagles that makes them not the best hunters?
  • 7:40 – Why is Scout’s mouth open?
  • 8:10 – Do they have rabies?
  • 8:40 – How old is Scout? How long will he live in captivity vs the wild?
  • 9:00 – What is the wingspan? How much do they eat per day? How fast can they fly?
  • 9:50 – How many eggs do they lay?
  • 10:21 – How many chicks make it to adulthood?
  • 12:01 – What is the difference between Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles?
  • 13:56 – Are Golden Eagles an endangered species?
  • 14:30 – Do you go hunting with Scout?
  • 15:00 – Do you see many eagles’ nest? Do they keep the same one a long time?
  • 16:20 – Have you ever had a Bald Eagle as an ambassador? Is that allowed for someone like you?
  • 18:00 – Why is he named Scout?
  • 21:20 – Are eagles affectionate with their mates?
  • 22:50 – Reintroduction and info about Scout for late arrivers
  • 29:00 – Can you explain how three Bald Eagle nests and one Bald Eagle nest have been discovered to raise a Red Tail Hawk baby?
  • 31:00 – Are male or female eagles more aggressive?
  • 32:10 – Is a Harris Hawk the best beginning bird for falconry?
  • 34:30 – How long did it take for Scout to warm up to you?
  • 36:10 – How much damage can an eagle’s beak do? Does it only cut or does it crush as well?
  • 39:40 – What if you walk by an eagle’s nest without knowing?
  • 42:10 – Has Scout tried to preen you?
  • 44:30 – During cold weather does Scout come inside?
  • 45:35 – Will he ever mate, does he go through hormone shifts?
  • 47:30 – Has Scout ever got into a tussle with another wild animal?
  • 48:50 – Does anybody else handle Scout? 49:50 – What is his sense of smell?
  • 51:00 – What is the courting process for eagles?
  • 53:00 – Will eagles really not mate again if their mate dies?
  • 54:00 – What type of birds are Osprey compared to eagles and hawks?
  • 55:20 – Do fledged eagles ever come back to the nest and are they tolerated by their parents?
  • 56:20 – How often do you get to spend quality time with Scout?
  • 57:20 – Does the male Golden Eagle help incubate the eggs like bald eagles do?

Young Golden Eagle Separated from Parents

On July 14th, 2018, Martin received a call about a Golden Eagle. He was led to the area by some people riding motorcycles then took off on foot in search of the eagle. With his net in hand, Martin surveyed the area and in just a few moments, caught sight of the Golden Eagle. He ran a bit to catch up and angle in, before the last dash in high gear to capture the bird.

On first inspection, Martin saw the eagle was very skinny and very young. He determined the eagle was a very young one, probably not long out the nest, that somehow got separated from his parents.

Martin brought the eagle back to the rescue center and immediately gave him a good meal and plenty of fluids loaded with nutrients. Once fed, the eagle was put into our largest chamber and left alone to begin to his recovery.

This eagle stayed nearly 6 weeks, gaining weight and growing stronger. On August 23rd he was released back to the wild where he belongs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did Martin know the parents weren’t around?
Martin tracks all the nests in the area and knows mating and breeding time periods. From his knowledge of the area and nest as well as examination of the young eagle, Martin knew the eagle had gotten separated from the parents.

How old was the eagle?
Two and half to three months old, just out of the nest, probably 3 or 4 weeks.

Why did the eagle have to be taken back to the rescue center?
He was really, really skinny and needed care to regain health and proper weight. Even another day alone, he would have died. Life in the wild is not easy and eagles need to be in top physical shape to survive.

Why didn’t the eagle bite Martin?
The eagle very easily could have bitten Martin, even as weak as he was. Martin has been working with critters over 50 years and knows how to handle them. Nonetheless, he always takes much care and caution for the benefit of both the eagle and himself!

Why is the eagle so calm and tame?
This eagle was very thin, starved and weak. Generally, any time a wild animal acts tame, they are very sick.

Does the eagle know Martin is helping him?
The eagle has an instinctual fear of humans. Captivity is very stressful for them. All they want is to get away from him and back into the wild.

How does Martin know if the eagle is male or female?
He can’t know for absolute certain without a blood test, and sometimes, especially when they are so thin, it is hard to know. Mostly, females are larger than males. After 50 years of working with critters, Martin has a pretty good eye for noticing size differences. However, there is still some gray area between a smaller female and larger male. It does not effect their treatment though, so Martin does not subject them to a blood test which would cause added stress.

What was the eagle fed?
The eagle was fed differently throughout his stay. On arrival, the key was to get fluid and nutrients into him as soon as possible. Martin uses a special mix as well as some small mice. Martin usually only has to force feed them a few days until they have the strength to feed themselves. It is sometimes difficult to get them to eat while in captivity. As the eagle recovers, the food changes. They get a natural diet of mice, quail and jackrabbits. They are given the whole animal, not just meat, as they need all the parts of the animals.

Do eagles need water?
Eagles get most of the water they need from the food they consume. They can also find water in wild at lakes, streams, puddles and such. Fresh water is always available for them at our rescue center.

Did you name the eagle?
We do not name rehab animals. They are wild and need to stay that way. Once they are able to feed themselves, they are left alone as much as possible. Martin tosses in food and only enters when he has to examine them, move them, or clean the area.

Was the eagle taught how to hunt?
This eagle was given some live animals in order to learn how to kill and how to feed himself. Hunting is partly instinctual and partly learned. All eagles have to get it figured out through experience as they only spend a very short amount of time with their parents once they leave the nest.

Why wasn’t the eagle released where he was found?
Martin released the eagle in safe central area. This location allows the eagle time to orient himself. Since they fly, distance isn’t a big issue. They are released well fed with a full crop that will give them a few weeks to find their next meal.

What will the eagle do without his parents around?
This eagle would not have been around his parents much longer. Once they reach a certain age, the parents leave them on their own.

Will the eagle ever find his parents?
If the eagle did, the parents would drive him out of their territory. Shortly after they leave, the young eagles are on their own, this is why 80% don’t survive the first year.

How will the eagle survive on his own?
All birds of prey face a very tough learning curve, 80% don’t make it past their first year. They are not with their parents very long after they leave the nest. They rely primarily on their instincts and learning things from experience.

Will you track the eagle?
We are not permitted to tag rehab animals. There are special circumstances to tag animals, but to track every animal we see would get quite costly and labor intensive.

Has the eagle come back?
If he comes back, something has been done wrong, the eagle should not be bonded to Martin for food.

What do you do if you see an injured eagle?
It is best not to approach the eagle. Take note of the surroundings and location and call police dispatch, not 911, or local fish and game. They can send someone out to care for the eagle. To learn more, please visit our guide “How to Help Wild Animals”.

For more questions and answers about eagles, please see our FAQ here.


Eagle Found Lifeless but Still Breathing

On September 26th, 2019 Martin was called about a Golden Eagle seen along the side of a road that was not moving. After traveling out about 40 miles, Martin found the Golden Eagle as described, just laying beside the road showing little signs of awareness.

Upon picking up the Golden Eagle, Martin immediately noticed how thin he was and thought starvation was the most likely cause of his condition. Martin quickly put the eagle in a kennel and headed back the the rescue center. Getting fluids and some food into the eagle was top priority and Martin hoped the eagle would survive that long.

Once home, Martin quickly prepared a small meal and was pleased to find the eagle was still alive. The first feeding was quite difficult as the eagle was so weak and struggled to swallow. Once the eagle was fed a small meal, he was taken to a small chamber to rest undisturbed. The eagle took the same lifeless position laying on the dirt in the chamber.

Martin stayed up all night with the eagle, making frequent visits to feed and check on the bird. Unfortunately, the eagle passed away early the next morning.

Martin said sometimes they arrive already dead but still breathing.

FAQ

Why are Eagles starving?
It is not easy in the wild, it is estimated nearly 80% of raptors don’t survive their first year. There are many obstacles, from man made to genetics to bad luck. Some birds are just not as good of hunters as others. If they do not get enough nourishment, they hunt even more poorly and struggle all the more. To survive in the wild they need to be in top physical condition.

Why can’t you treat the eagle on the spot?
We receive no state or federal funding. Unfortunately, we cannot be a wildlife ambulance service, there are too many variables with the sheer number of wildlife species we deal with to have everything required to treat them on site. Many of the medications require refrigeration which is not practical travel with. Situations are always different, and many times it would not be safe to treat the animals where found. Bringing them back to the center is much safer and more efficient.

Why did you have to travel so far?
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators available in all locations. Martin covers a very large area of Southern Utah and helps critters as best as he can. Often he receives many calls a day hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles apart for a variety of kinds of critters. Sometimes for various reasons, it is not possible to tend to them all or get there immediately.

Why didn’t the eagle go to a veterinarian?
Martin is a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator with over 50 years experience. Generally, in regards to wildlife, veterinarians refer to him.

Why wasn’t the eagle given an IV?
Most of the decisions Martin faces are not solely based in medical procedures. Wild animals are extremely stressed in captivity, sometimes this alone can make them give up. The use of IV is an invasive medical procedure which taxes the animal further and requires additional invasive procedures of sedation.

In addition, there is the problem of time, resources and expenses. We work with many local veterinarians who provide their services at cost which means if we take everything to the vets we would overburden them to the point that would not longer be able offer their services. Martin has to be able to most of his veterinary work himself very much like the livestock industry do most of their veterinary work themselves.

The eagle was given plenty of fluids and treated throughout the night, much of which was not shown in this relatively short video. Martin spent the whole night evaluating best options for the eagle. It is likely if the eagle had been found even a few hours sooner, it may have survived. As Martin said, “sometimes they arrive already dead but still breathing”.

Why was the eagle fed so much?
In eagle meal terms, a few small mice is not a lot. The food only sits in the crop, so does not affect the digestive system if it cannot process the food. The crop was no where near full. Most animals, especially ones that are so weak, will not feed themselves in captivity, so Martin must feed them. Generally, in birds that recover, this only needs to be a done a few times.

Why wasn’t the eagle kept warm?
Wild Golden Eagles live outdoors and are accustomed to cold temperatures. The eagle was kept warm enough, it was not a cold night. Warmer temperatures are more problematic for them.

Why wasn’t the eagle given fluids?
This eagle was given fluids at arrival and throughout the night.

Eagles get most of the water they need from the food they consume. Fresh water is always available for them at our rescue center.

Why isn’t a starved wild Golden Eagle treated the same way as a starved Human Being?
It’s not a human being, it’s not a primate, it is a bird of prey. Their digestive systems are completely different and on top of all that they are wild Apex predators that need to be handled as wild Apex predators.

Any form of captivity is very stressful and some will simply not tolerate it or just decide to give up. They are full of fear and do not understand what is going on.

This fear and stress is a major factor in determining types of treatment to help them. Unlike humans, hospitalization is not as viable of option. Besides the stress factor, there is also sheer volume of animals in need and lack of resources to pay for days or weeks of far more invasive and stressful procedures that are not necessarily more successful.

Why does the title say “lifeless” when the eagle was not dead?
The title refers to Martin’s perception of the eagle’s condition. There were many signs the eagle had already given up.

Why was this video published?
Initially, we did not want to publish it. However we decided with added content about the challenges of Wildlife and Wildlife Rehabilitators, and the positive message from our Wildlife Ambassador Scout, that it had educational value. It is not easy in the wild, and we cannot save every critter than runs into trouble.

Why are comments off?
This video began getting a lot of views in a relatively short amount of time. We try to keep our videos and even comments on topic and suitable for classroom use. As the video grew in popularity it was subject to more and more misinformation, vitriol, and trolls in the comments.

We are a small group and all our web presence is handled by one volunteer. It became too time consuming and psychologically draining to even cull out inappropriate comments. We find this unfortunate as education is very important to us and on most videos we try to address as many comments as we can.


Slow Down For Eagles


Download Infographic (1000×1000 .jpg)
  • Though outstanding hunters, Eagles have a very high failure rate
    Eagles are very big with a wide wing span. Bigger is not always better when it comes to hunting. A smaller lighter male eagle can often have the edge over a larger heavier female eagle. For all their skills and amazing physical prowess, it usually takes many, many unsuccessful attempts before they finally capture their prey. Their hunts take longer and exert great energy, but their larger prey provides a meal that lasts them longer as well. They do not need to eat daily.
  • Combined with shrinking habitats, they often feast on roadkill.
    It takes a lot of effort to hunt for food especially in a limited habitat among much competition and obstructions. Roadkill is a lot easier to hunt. Eagles are opportunistic predators, they will take what they can get with the least amount of energy expended.

An Eagle with Full Crop


Download Flyer (8.5×11 .pdf)
  • A large meal increases the weight of Eagle
    Just as a pilot must track and balance weight on an airplane, so do birds. Their flight is dependent on a healthy weight and incredible physical fitness. It does not take much weight to throw off their optimal weight and balance for flight.
  • Extra weight creates added difficulty to resume flight and return to cover
    A large meal can weigh down a bird considerably. Not only does the added weight from a big meal make flying harder, it also lessens their incentive for flight. Already satiated, their will and attitude to work for food drops.

Eagles Are Large

  • Please slow down as a large, heavy Eagle needs time and distance to get off the road
    If you see birds, even smaller ones in the road, it is a good idea to slow down. If there are many birds eating roadkill, it may not be possible to see an eagle among them until it is too late.
  • Unlike smaller birds, Eagles cannot dart away from vehicles.
    For those in urban areas, you may be used to just driving along with birds in front of you in the road because most smaller ones are able to get out of the way. Small birds with small wing spans can flap away quickly. A Eagle and some other larger birds cannot. While driving in wildlife areas, please keep an eye out for objects in the road and slow down in order to better evaluate the situation and act accordingly.

Download Educational Materials