On the identification of sub-adult/adult Golden Eagles at a distance: Golden Eagles are large-bodied, have long and broad wings, lengthy “hands” (primary tips), and have a proportionally small head and long tail. These features, combined, produce a subtle yet unique ‘signature’ in the sky.
Figure 1: Note the bulge to the secondaries, creating a “lobed” look to the trailing edge of its wings; the slight “pinch in” in width near the sides of the body accentuates the lobed look (see how this particular feature shows through in both the long and mid-distance shots below). In favourable light, the golden hackles shine through quite nicely, lending to a pale-headed look at a moderate distance and a near-headless look at great distances (see this effect by viewing the small crop at left before clicking to enlarge the photo). Photo: Golden Eagle. Pakenham, Lanark County, Ontario. 26 December 2014.