Saturday 25 May
Lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Lesser spotted eagle fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Lesser spotted eagle description
The lesser spotted eagle is a medium-sized bird of prey with dark brown plumage, broad wings and a small bill (2) (4). While there can be significant variation between the brown plumage tones exhibited by different individuals, the head, neck and upperwing coverts are generally paler than the body, and the flight feathers are usually particularly dark. In most specimens, but especially noticeable in younger adults, there is also a white patch on the upperwings that can be seen during flight (4) (5). In contrast to the brown plumage, the eyes, feet and the skin at the base of the beak are yellow (5). The juvenile is darker than the adult, with a rufous-yellow patch on the nape, spots on the upperwing coverts, and white tips on tail and the trailing edge of the wing (2) (4).
- Length: 55 – 65 cm (2)
Lesser spotted eagle biology
An opportunistic and versatile predator, the lesser spotted eagle feeds upon a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Its major source of prey varies according to location, with populations in humid lowlands consuming large numbers of amphibians, while those in hills and mountains are more reliant on mammals. At the wintering grounds, this species commonly consumes nestlings of the red-billed quelea (Quelea quelea), along with swarms of alate termites. Three hunting techniques are employed by the lesser spotted eagle: soaring at around 100 metres before diving down; swopping down from a perch; and walking along the ground (4).
Breeding populations of the lesser spotted eagle in central Europe commence egg laying in late April and early May. The birds build a large platform of twigs, usually high up in a tree, but on rare occasions on the ground, with a central nest cup, around 30 centimetres wide, lined with green twigs and sometimes with grass. A clutch of two eggs is normally laid, which are incubated for 36 to 41 days. During the following eight-week fledging period, the older chick frequently kills its younger sibling. Sexual maturity is not reached until three to four years old and the lifespan is believed to be 26 years (4).Top
Lesser spotted eagle range
The lesser spotted eagle’s breeding range extends throughout much of central, east and south-east Europe, through Turkey and the Caucasus mountains, as far as southern Russia and Iran (2) (4). Vagrant individuals occur even further afield, from France and Spain, east to Kazakhstan, north as far as Finland and south to the Arabian Peninsula (2) (6). During migration, the entire population heads south, passing through Israel (1) on route to the wintering grounds in southern and eastern Africa (2) (4).Top
Lesser spotted eagle habitat
Within its breeding range, the lesser spotted eagle can be found in patchy woodland areas, often near meadows and fields, and constructs its nest close to the forest edge (4) (5). The highest densities of breeding lesser spotted eagles are found in moist lowland areas, although breeding pairs have also been recorded in dry mountain forests up to elevations of 2,200 metres (4). At its African wintering grounds, this species mainly occupies moist, sparsely wooded savanna (5).Top
Lesser spotted eagle statusTop
Lesser spotted eagle threats
With an expansive range and a relatively large population, the lesser spotted eagle is not currently considered to be globally threatened (1). Nevertheless, as a result of habitat alteration and persecution, this species has disappeared from several parts of its breeding range and has undergone an overall decline in numbers (1) (2). There is ongoing concern regarding activities such as the shooting of this species during migration, which is popular in some areas through which it travels, along with loss of foraging and nesting habitat due to forestry and conversion to agriculture (4) (7). Fortunately, however, the most recent surveys of the lesser spotted eagle indicate that its population is increasing overall (2).Top
Lesser spotted eagle conservation
A European Species Action Plan in currently in place for the lesser spotted eagle, which is helping to promote the conservation of this species in the European Union. By protecting foraging and nesting habitat, reducing hunting pressure, reintroduction programs and long-term population monitoring and research, it is hoped that the continued survival and abundance of this charismatic raptor will be assured (7).Top
Find out more
To learn more about the conservation of the lesser spotted eagle visit:
- Natura International:
For more information on this and other bird species please see:
- BirdLife International:
AuthenticationThis information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: email@example.comTop
- The winged, reproductive stage of the termite or ant life-cycle.
- Small feathers concealing the bases of larger flight feathers, usually on the wings or tail.
- Flight feathers
- The large feathers at the end of the wing, involved in flight.
- IUCN Red List (July, 2009)
- BirdLife International (July, 2009)
- CITES (July, 2009)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume Two: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. (2001) Raptors of the World: An Identification Guide to the Birds of Prey of the World. Houghton Mifflin, New York.
- Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
- Meyburg, B.U., Haraszthy, L., Strazds, M. and Schäffer, N. (2001) European Species Action Plan for Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina). In: Schäffer, N. and Gallo-Orsi, U. (Eds) European Union action plans for eight priority bird species. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.