Aquila heliaca 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Accipitriformes Accipitridae

Scientific Name: Aquila heliaca Savigny, 1809
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Eastern Imperial Eagle, Asian Imperial Eagle, Imperial Eagle
French Aigle impérial
Spanish Aguila Imperial, Aguila Imperial Oriental
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Taxonomic Notes:
Identification information: 75-84 cm. Large, dark eagle. Generally dark brown with white scapular markings and pale golden-cream nape. Grey base to tail. Juvenile brown fading to pale buff with dark flight feathers. Shows flat wings in flight. Similar spp. Golden Eagle A. chrysaetos is paler with less obviously bi-coloured tail. Holds wings in flattened "V" shape. Steppe Eagle A. nipalensis lacks pale rusty yellow ventral area, bi-coloured tail and pale scapulars. Voice Repeated barking.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-03-31
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Burfield, I., Ieronymidou, C., Pople, R., Wheatley, H. & Wright, L
European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU27 regional assessment: Near Threatened (NT°)

In Europe this species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population size may be small, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern in Europe.

In the EU27 the small population size qualifies for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<1,000 mature individuals), but as population size is increasing in the EU27 and in Europe, the final category is adjusted to Near Threatened.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species breeds in Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine (Heredia 1996) and Russia, reaching to 55°N (Meyburg and Kirwan 2013). Breeding has not been proved but possibly occurs in Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova and Romania and it is thought that the species is extinct in Cyprus (Demerdzhiev et al. 2011). Wintering birds occur in southern Turkey (Meyburg and Kirwan 2013).
Countries occurrence:
Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Georgia; Greece; Hungary; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Montenegro; Romania; Russian Federation (European Russia); Serbia; Slovakia; Turkey; Ukraine
Belarus; Cyprus; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Italy; Lithuania; Poland; Slovenia; Sweden
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:2770000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):2000
Range Map:22696048-1

Population [top]

Population:The European population is estimated at 1,300-1,900 pairs, which equates to 2,500-3,800 mature individuals. The population in the EU27 is estimated at 190-250 pairs, which equates to 380-490 mature individuals. For details of national estimates, see the supplementary material.

Trend Justification:  In Europe and the EU27 the population size is estimated to be increasing. For details of national estimates, see attached PDF.
For further information about this species, see 22696048_aquila_heliaca.pdf.
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Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:2500-3800,3100Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is a lowland species that has been pushed to higher altitudes by persecution and habitat loss in Europe. In central and eastern Europe, it breeds in forests up to 1,000 m and also in steppe and agricultural areas with large trees, and nowadays also on electricity pylons. In Turkey it is known to very rarely nest on the ground or on cliffs. In the Caucasus, it occurs in steppe, lowland and riverine forests and semi-deserts (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, Meyburg and Kirwan 2013). Wetlands are apparently preferred on the wintering grounds. From late-February to early-May adults return to breeding areas. Both sexes construct a large stick nest, typically 100?150 cm in diameter with the nest cup lined with green sticks and other materials such as grass, fur and wool. Clutches are usually two to three eggs (Meyburg and Kirwan 2013). It hunts small to medium-sized mammals as well as birds and carrion. In the Caucasus the main prey include hare, tortoises, lizards and carrion (Tucker and Heath 1994). Adults in central Europe, the Balkan Peninsula, Turkey and the Caucasus are usually residents, whilst most immatures move south. (Meyburg and Kirwan 2013).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):16.6
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Breeding sites are threatened primarily by intensive forestry in the mountains, and by the shortage of large indigenous trees in the lowlands. Other threats are loss and alteration of feeding habitats, shortages of small and medium-sized prey species (particularly ground-squirrels Spermophilus spp.), human disturbance of breeding sites, nest robbing and illegal trade, shooting, poisoning and electrocution by powerlines. Habitat alterations associated with agricultural expansion threaten historical and potential breeding sites in former range countries. Hunting, poisoning, prey depletion and other mortality factors are also likely to pose threats along migration routes and in wintering areas.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. CMS Appendix I and II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. It is legally protected in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine. The Eastern Imperial Eagle Working Group was established in 1990. A European action plan was published in 1996 and its implementation reviewed in 2010 (Barov and Derhé 2011). Regional Action Plans have been published for the Balkan Peninsula (Stoychev et al. 2004) and for the Southern Caucasus (Horváth et al. 2006). The Eastern Imperial Eagle Management Guidelines for Hungary were published in 2005 (Kovács et al. 2006) and for Slovakia in 2007 (Demeter and Maderič 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to identify breeding and wintering sites, and migration routes. Improve protection of species and sites. Implement beneficial forestry policies. Maintain large trees in open land and protect old woodland on slopes (B. Hallmann in litt. 1999). Prevent mortality from nest robbing, nest destruction, illegal trade, poisoning and electrocution on medium-voltage powerlines, as well as persecution in wintering grounds and migratory routes. Maintain feeding habitats by preserving traditional land use. Increase the availability of prey species by habitat management. Raise public awareness and involve stakeholders in conservation activities.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Aquila heliaca. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22696048A60130798. . Downloaded on 21 September 2018.
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