Originally featured in Points West in Fall 2010
Golden Eagle taxidermy mount, Draper Natural History Museum
The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) inhabits open and semi-open wild spaces throughout the Northern Hemisphere, where it is widely exalted among many cultures for its prowess as a hunter and master of flight. The American West is a major stronghold for this magnificent animal.
Draper Natural History Museum staff is conducting long-term research on the golden eagle because of its ecological and economic importance in the sagebrush-steppe landscapes of the Greater Yellowstone region and beyond. This specimen of a subadult eagle was mounted around the turn of the twentieth century and maintained in private hands until it was donated to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. The species is now protected from harm or disturbance by long-standing federal and state laws, and special permits are required to possess even a single eagle feather or any other eagle part.
Located in the Draper Museum’s Discovery Laboratory, we use this specimen for educational programming as well as a source of DNA for scientific study. Draper staff and volunteers provide regular tours through our working laboratory to hundreds of visitors annually, and this golden eagle is one of the highlights of each tour. It is also used in the annual volunteer training workshop held to introduce new citizen-science volunteers (Golden Eagle Posse) to the biology and natural history of golden eagles before the volunteers strike out into the field to monitor nests.
This photograph of the eagle will support a series of educational programs presented by Draper staff in Yellowstone National Park. In the future, we hope to include this specimen in an exhibition highlighting icons of the American West.
Golden eagle taxidermy mount. Gift of Nancy Buening. NH.304.3