Who’s Who in the Folsom Zoo; meet Sierra and Pinyon, the golden eagles

By: Telegraph Staff
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Editor’s note: This is a weekly feature in the Folsom Telegraph where readers will get the opportunity to meet Folsom’s furriest. This week’s “Who’s Who in Folsom Zoo” is Sierra and Pinyon, the golden eagles.

Two handsome golden eagles call Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary home. They sit high on their perch in the aviary watching as visitors admire them. With a wing span of up to seven feet, these large birds came to their forever home at the zoo sanctuary after being rescued, rehabilitated and determined to be non-releasable.

Sierra, a female, is the larger of the two eagles. Although every effort was made to release her back into the wild, for some reason, she would not fly. Her friend Pinyon, a male, was found on a construction site nearing starvation. After his rehabilitation, he was not able to be released into his natural environment.

The aviary at the zoo sanctuary is filled with several branches set at different levels giving the eagles a choice of places to perch while watching the activities around them: the visitors, the wolf hybrids across the walkway and in the spring, the songbirds in the branches of the trees near the aviary.

A golden eagle’s body is dark brown in color, and their heads and necks are covered with a lighter golden-brown plumage that glistens in the sun earning these beautiful eagles the name “golden.” When Sierra and Pinyon are seated on their perch facing the back of the aviary it is easy to see their gold. Sometimes also referred to as a booted eagle, the golden eagle's legs are covered with feathers.  

In California, most golden eagles stay put all year long, however, those from colder climates often migrate to California for the winter months. Golden eagles occupy a variety of habitats including forests, canyons, shrub lands, grasslands and oak woodlands. Being a skilled hunter, golden eagles use their speed and sharp talons to catch their prey. Their diet is made up of mammals who live in open fields and meadows, which is the hunting territory of these large birds. No hunting is required at the zoo sanctuary; Pinyon and Sierra enjoy a diet of humanely raised, previously frozen rats, mice and quail, which meet the birds’ dietary needs.

Golden eagle pairs remain with their mate for life. They build huge nests in high places like cliffs, trees or human structures like power poles. They return to their nest each year during the breeding season, late January through August. The female produces one to four eggs and both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and feeding the eaglets.

Visit the largest bird of prey in North America and the national bird of Mexico, the golden eagle, at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary located at 403 Stafford Street. The zoo sanctuary is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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