Discover The National Bird of Russia

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: January 23, 2023
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Russia spreads across northern Asia and Europe with an area of 6.6 million square miles. The northernmost ban of Russia is tundra, accounting for about 10% of its land mass. However, the other 90% includes a mix of forests, grasslands, taiga, mountains, and coastal marshes. These diverse habitats provide a thriving environment for a wide range of wildlife. Russia has snowy owls, known as a symbol of wisdom, and white cranes that represent the fallen soldiers that didn’t return from the battlefield, but are either of these the national bird of Russia? Is the majestic gyrfalcon, the largest falcon in the world, the national bird? Does Russia even have a national bird? Read on to discover the national bird of Russia!

What is the National Bird of Russia?

There is not an official national bird of Russia. However, the eagle is an honored symbol of Russia and is featured as a double-headed eagle on the National Emblem. The emblem which is on the coat of arms is a golden double-headed eagle grasping a scepter and a globe. In the center of the eagle is a smaller red shield with an image of a silver horseman wearing a blue cape. The horseman is slaying a black dragon at the foot of his horse. The eagle heads are crowned with three imperial crowns representing unity and sovereignty.

Coat of arms of Russia

Russia’s national coat of arms features a golden double-headed eagle.

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What Kind of Eagle Is used as a Symbol of Russia?

The official description of the National Emblem mentions “a golden double eagle”, but is that referring to the coloration of the bird or the species? Most agree that the golden eagle is the eagle represented as the symbol of Russia. Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) live all over Russia except for the farthest northern regions. The golden eagle is all brown with golden feathers interspersed, making it an impressive-looking bird. They are around 2.5 feet tall and weigh about 10 pounds. The National Emblem of Russia features the double-headed eagle with its wings spread out. The wingspan of the golden eagle is 6 to 7 feet!

Where Do Golden Eagles Live?

Golden eagles live in most of Russia including Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, and European Russia. Globally they can be found primarily in the northern hemisphere across Asia, Europe, and North America. The golden eagle is adaptable to a variety of habitats including mountains, open grasslands, and coniferous woodlands. They build large nests of twigs on the side of cliffs as well as near humans on anything from windmills to communication towers. Their nests can grow over the years to be 6 feet wide! Golden eagles mate for life so you will frequently find a pair together.

Golden Eagle

Golden eagles may inhabit the same nest for years, or alternate between different nests.

©Al Carrera/Shutterstock.com

Is the Golden Eagle Featured on Russian Money?

Yes! The coins of the Russian ruble feature the coat of arms with the double-headed eagle. The smaller denomination of coins features Saint George on the back instead of the coat of arms. Saint George is the patron saint of Moscow and is pictured riding a horse and slaying a dragon similar to the image on the coat of arms.

Is the Golden Eagle Featured on the Russian Flag?

No, the Russian flag has three equal horizontal stripes of white, blue, and red. Older versions of the Russian flag do feature the double-headed eagle centered on the flag or in the upper hoist-side corner. National Flag Day in Russia is celebrated on August 22 every year.

Is the Golden Eagle an Endangered Animal?

No, the Golden eagle is listed as an animal of “least concern” by the IUCN. They have a large range and are adaptable to a variety of habitats. Golden eagles that live in Russia will often migrate south during the winter to warmer locations.

How Does the Golden Eagle Compare to the Bald Eagle?

Golden eagles are quite similar to bald eagles. They are both about the same size and have a wingspan that is very similar. Some of the most noticeable differences are with their heads. Bald eagles have white heads (both males and females), while golden eagles have a head that matches the rest of their bodies. The beak of the bald eagle is bright yellow and they have yellow eyes as an adult. Golden eagles have a grayish beak and brown or hazel eyes with flecks of gold. Juvenile bald eagles do not have white heads yet and can look like golden eagles.  

baby bald eagle and mother

Young bald eagles do not have white feathers on their heads yet, so they can sometimes be mistaken for a golden eagle.

©iStock.com/BrianEKushner

What is the National Animal of Russia?

The national animal of Russia is the Eurasian brown bear. The bear symbolizes strength and perseverance. They can grow to be 4 to 7 feet long and weigh nearly 550 pounds. The Ural Mountains in Russia have the largest population of Eurasian brown bears. They are sometimes referred to as the Siberian brown bear.

What Other Animals Live in Russia?

There are many other types of animals that live in Russia, including the snow leopard, Eurasian lynx, and Siberian tiger. Unfortunately, there are only about 500 Siberian tigers left in the wild. They live in the far eastern region of Russia.

Reindeer also live in Russia and reindeer herding is one of the main occupations of the indigenous Nenets of northern Russia. There are also Arctic foxes and West Siberian lemmings, which are hardy animals and can withstand some of the harshest climates.

Other birds in Russian include the mute swan, common scoter, greater scaup, great egret, oystercatchers, osprey, and even flamingoes occasionally. Flamingoes are not native to Russia but will sometimes turn up in the southern parts of Siberia! The flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas, which makes sense. The honored golden eagle also makes sense as the unofficial national bird of Russia.

Do Polar Bears Live in Russia?

Yes, polar bears do live in Russia. In fact, one of the largest concentrations of polar bears is on Wrangel Island in Russia. It is sometimes referred to as the “Polar Bear Maternity Ward” due to the number of mama and baby polar bears. Compared to brown bears they are quite a bit larger with the males being 8 to 10 feet long with an average weight of 600 to 1200 pounds! It is illegal to shoot polar bears in Russia as they are considered a “vulnerable” animal by the IUCN.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Martin Mecnarowski/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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