Fifty year old golden eagle

A question I am often asked is “how long do eagles live for ?”.
As this is a bit of an open question I often answer in two parts. Firstly if we look at large eagles in the wild then we can offer a guess at an average of twenty to thirty years. I say guess because accurate data from ringed wild eagles is continually being collated and because a really reliable data system is relatively new.

As for large eagles in captivity, then we have to throw out much of the old records. I remember reading of a reference to a Golden Eagle kept in an Austria Zoological collection who was reported to have lived for ninety years.
Though as an after piece the author offered suspicion that the individual eagle had been replaced some time within those ninety years.

I took this picture of “Cleo”, Morley Nelsons female Golden Eagle in 1999 when she was fifty years old. As you can see her wing muscles are becoming tired as she holds her wings in this heart shape. Clearly this eagle would not have survived to this age in the wild. As far as I know ‘Cleo” is still alive and it will be interesting to know her final age.