Aquila clangagreater spotted eagle

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Geographic Range

Greater spotted eagles can be found in Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and Southeast Asia. Breeding pairs have been found in Finland, mainland China and Mongolia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. The entire range is estimated at 8,961,000 km2. ("BirdLife International", 2006; "UNEP-WCMC Species Database", 2006)

Habitat

Greater spotted eagles mainly occur in forested areas and wetlands, including temperate and boreal forests, temperate shrublands, and subtropical and tropical mangrove forests. They occur near bogs, marshes, swamps, fens, peat lands, and permanent fresh water lakes. This species is typically found at low altitudes. Greater spotted eagles winter in southern Europe, southern Asia, the Middle East and Africa as far south as Uganda and Kenya. There is little published about their migration. ("BirdLife International", 2006; "Nature & Biodiversity", 2006; Meyburg, et al., 2005)

Physical Description

Greater spotted eagles range from 62 to 74 cm in length. Adults are dark brown with slightly paler flight feathers. Underwing coverts are generally darker than flight feathers. There are bands of white spots across the upperwings of juveniles. ("BirdLife International", 2006; Kazama, 1984; Robinson, 2006)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    1800 to 2400 g
    63.44 to 84.58 oz
  • Range length
    62 to 74 cm
    24.41 to 29.13 in
  • Average wingspan
    168 cm
    66.14 in

Reproduction

Information on mating systems in greater spotted eagles was not found. Like most birds of prey, it's likely that they form monogamous pairs during breeding seasons and cooperate to raise young.

Little is known about reproductive behavior of greater spotted eagles. They lay 1 to 3 eggs per season. After measuring the gestation period of the closely related species, lesser spotted eagles (Aquila pomarina), experts estimate the gestation period for Aquila clanga to be about six weeks. Cainism (when older offspring kill their siblings) has been observed in greater spotted eagles. ("Nature & Biodiversity", 2006)

  • Range eggs per season
    1 to 3
  • Average time to hatching
    42 days

Greater spotted eagles are usually taken care of by both parents. Adult females will keep the nestling warm at night and males will deliver food during the day. Males usually do not stay near the nest for more than a few minutes. Adult males will feed nestlings parts of prey until they are 25 days old. (Vali and Lohmus, 2002)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
    • protecting
      • male
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

There is no information on lifespan in these eagles.

Behavior

Little is known about the migratory behavior of greater spotted eagles. After a recent study experts discovered that greater spotted eagle families break up when they migrate. Multiple individuals departed Eyrie, Poland in two different directions: adult females left first, young of the year left several days later. Adult males left last. Adult birds headed southweast towards Bosphorus and young of the year headed southwest towards Albania. Little is known about other aspects of behavior as well. They are active during the day and migratory. Like most raptors they are likely to be solitary outside of the breeding season. ("BirdLife International", 2006; "BirdLife International", 2006; Meyburg, et al., 2005)

Home Range

Home range in greater spotted eagles is not known. ("BirdLife International", 2006; "BirdLife International", 2006)

Communication and Perception

Greater spotted eagles have keen senses of vision and hearing. Like most birds, they do not rely extensively on chemical cues. No information on communication among individuals was found.

Food Habits

Greater spotted eagles are carnivorous, eating mainly small mammals, water birds, frogs, and snakes. Mammals (especially Microtus arvalis) comprise 53% of the diet in Russia and 58% in the Oka Reserve. ("BirdLife International", 2006; "Nature & Biodiversity", 2006)

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats terrestrial vertebrates
  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles

Predation

Aquila clanga are hunted and poisoned by humans. Hatchlings and eggs may be preyed on by American mink (Neovison vison) and other nest predators. Fledglings may be targeted by other raptors or owls. Otherwise, greater spotted eagles are top predators and adults are not typically preyed on by other large predators. ("IUCN Red List", 2004)

Ecosystem Roles

Greater spotted eagles are top predators in their ecosystem. They help to control populations of small mammals and other small vertebrates. ("BirdLife International", 2006)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Aquila clanga is an important member of healthy ecosystems. ("BirdLife International", 2006; "IUCN Red List", 2004)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Aquila clanga on humans. ("BirdLife International", 2006; "IUCN Red List", 2004)

Conservation Status

Current population estimates for this species is less than 10,000 birds. Russia is thought to be home to up to 3000 pairs, while the rest of Europe may house up to 900 adult pairs. Greater spotted eagles are declining at a rate likely to exceed 10% in three generations. The IUCN Redlist lists greater spotted eagles as vulnerable. Measures have been taken by many eastern European countries, particularly Belarus. Greater spotted eagles are protected by general conservation laws in Belarus and Estonia. Poland has protected land allotted to greater spotted eagles. An international working group for the protection of lesser spotted eagles (Aquila pomarina) and greater spotted eagles has been established. Deforestation and wetland drainage are the biggest threats to these raptors. Additionally, an invasive species, American mink (Neovison vison), that preys on nestlings and eggs have been introduced to areas where greater spotted eagle populations were once stable. ("BirdLife International", 2006; "IUCN Red List", 2004; "Nature & Biodiversity", 2006; "UNEP-WCMC Species Database", 2006)

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Alvin Adjei (author), University of Notre Dame, Karen Powers (editor, instructor), Radford University.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

bog

a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

migratory

makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

2006. "BirdLife International" (On-line). BirdLife International. Accessed April 07, 2006 at http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3531&m=0.

2004. "IUCN Red List" (On-line). 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed April 07, 2006 at www.iucnredlist.org.

2006. "Nature & Biodiversity" (On-line). EUROPA - Environment - Nature & Biodiveristy. Accessed April 08, 2006 at http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/nature/nature_conservation/focus_wild_birds/species_birds_directive/birdactionplan/aquilaclanga.htm.

2006. "UNEP-WCMC Species Database" (On-line). UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Accessed April 07, 2006 at http://sea.unep-wcmc.org/reception/help.htm.

Alivizatos, H., D. Papandropoulos, S. Zogaris. 2004. Winter Diet of the Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila Clanga) in the Amvrakikos Wetlands, Greece. Journal of Raptor Research, 38/4: 371-374.

Hesselberg, C. 1968. Spotted and Lesser - Spotted Eagle aquila clanga and aquila-pomarina in Denmark 1966. Donsk ornithologisk forenings tidsskrift, 61/3: 183-185.

Kazama, T. 1984. The First Record of Spotted-Eagle aquila clanga New record in Niigata Prefecture Japan. Yamashina cho-rui kenkyu-jo, 16/2-3: 170-171.

Meyburg, B., M. Meyburg, T. Mizera, G. Maciorowski, J. Kowalski. 2005. Family Break up, Depature, and Autumn Migration in Europe of a family of Greater Spotted Eagles ( Aquila Clanga) as Reported by Satellite Telemetry. Journal of Raptor Research, 39/4: 462-465.

Robinson, R. 2006. "Profiles of birds occurring in Britain & Ireland" (On-line). Accessed April 29, 2006 at http://www.bto.org/birdfacts.

Vali, L., A. Lohmus. 2002. Parental Care, Nestling Growth and Diet in a Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga Nest. Bird Study, 49/1: 93-95.