Greater Spotted Eagle

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Image:GreaterSpottedEagle.jpg

Common Name: Greater Spotted Eagle
Scientific Name: Aquila clanga

Size: 24.4-29.1 inches (62-74 cm); Wingspan: 63-71.6 inches (160-182 cm)

Habitat: Eurasia and Africa; this species occupies a fragmented range, breeding in Estonia, Finland, Poland, Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, mainland China and Mongolia, and in tiny numbers in Pakistan and north-west India. Passage or wintering birds occur in small numbers over a vast area, including central and eastern Europe, North Africa, East Africa, the Middle East, the Arabian peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent, south Asia and South-East Asia. Wintering birds have also been reported in Hong Kong (China). The population probably numbers fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with Russia holding 2,800-3,000 pairs. The European population is probably no more than 900 pairs (with c.150 pairs in Belarus). Numbers appear to have declined in the western half of its range and in some parts of its Asian range.

They occupy lowland forest and forest edges near wet areas, including meadows, bogs, and marshes, along with river-valley woodland. In their wintering grounds they also prefer wetter habitat than most eagles, and are found in river deltas, mangroves, marshes, and lake margins; though in Africa they inhabit semi-arid acacia savannah. They have been recorded as high as 4,000+ meters above sea level in Iran, but they’re more often within a range from 0-1,000 m.

Status: Vulnerable. Global population: 3,300-8,800 adult individuals with decreasing population trend. This species is suspected to have undergone at least a moderately rapid decline over the last three generations. While habitat destruction and disturbance are considered the main reasons for its decline, poaching and electrocution can be considered important. Suitable habitat mosaics have been lost as a result of afforestation and wetland drainage. In eastern Europe, agricultural intensification and the abandonment of traditional floodplain management have reduced habitat quality. Birds are intolerant of permanent human presence in their territories. Forestry operations are a major cause of disturbance. Shooting is a threat in Russia, the Mediterranean, South-East Asia and Africa, together with deliberate and accidental poisoning across much of its range. In Israel, poisoning and electrocution are major causes for casualties of wintering population.

Diet: Small mammals (to the size of hares), birds (including waterfowl), amphibians, lizards, snakes, frogs, small fish, carrion, and insects. In many areas, the main prey item is the Northern Water Vole (Arvicola terrestris).

They hunt for prey in flight or from a perch in a tree. This species engages in kleptoparasitism from each other and from other raptor species.

Nesting: Sexes are alike but females are larger. Greater Spotted Eagles are polymorphic with dark, intermediate, and pale morph forms. Dark morphs are black-brown both above and below with pale upper wing coverts and a light, whitish U-shape above the tail. Pale morphs, called fulvescens, have black tails, flight feathers, and greater wing coverts, but are otherwise rufous to buff with dark markings along the breast, flanks, wing edges, and around the eyes. Intermediates are pale with yellow-brown streaking on the upper wing coverts and a buff-colored breast. The cere and feet are yellow, and the eyes are brown.

Juveniles are brown to black with buff spotting and white bands along the upper wings. The tail and flight feathers are tipped with white, except for the outer primary feathers. They reach full adult plumage after 5-6 years.

Eagles are monogamous. The breeding displays include circling, high soaring, and dives done by the male toward a soaring female with loud calling usually accompanying the displays. The breeding season is from April-August and November-March in Pakistan.

A large stick nest placed below the canopy in a tree in a deciduous forest (rarely in coniferous forest). Old nests of another species of raptor or Black Storks are sometimes used. The clutch size is usually 1 to 3 white eggs with reddish-brown markings. Incubation starts with the laying of the first egg and lasts for about 42 days. The nestling period is 63-67 days. Usually, only one chick survives, as the result of cainism

Cool Facts: There is strong evidence of hybridization between this species and Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina). In some European countries mixed pairs can constitute 50% of Greater Spotted Eagle pairs. It is unclear whether this represents a new phenomenon or a conservation concern, but A. pomarina is far more numerous than A. clanga in the zone of overlap, and the range of A. pomarina appears to be spreading east, further into the range of A. clanga.


This 3D model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume IV: Eagles of the World

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