Determining Sex in Golden Eagle (AQUILA CHRYSAETOS) Nestling

Gabriela Peniche Peyron*, Darren Shaw, SG Dures, Sherryn A. Ciavaglia, D.B.A. Thompson, NE Anderson, Anna Meredith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Incorporating sex ratios of nestlings into population viability studies increases knowledge of overall health of endangered populations. Currently, a reliable non-invasive method to identify the sex of golden eagle nestlings is not available; however, claims are commonly made based on morphology. Ten biometric measurements from 43 Scottish golden eagles aged 2–7.5 weeks were assessed to see if sex could actually be determined using this non-invasive methodology. Sex was confirmed via molecular analysis of blood samples. Discrete and principal component analyses of the different biometrics could not correctly determine individual nestling sex. Therefore, despite being more invasive, molecular sexing remains the recommended tool of choice for accurate sex identification of Scottish golden eagle nestlings younger than 7.5 weeks of age. This has important implications for golden eagle field studies where empirical morphological measurements are frequently and typically taken, but we have shown are not reliable in determining the sex of such young nestlings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • biometric
  • sexing
  • golden eagle
  • non-invasive
  • nestling


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