Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina)

Lesser Spotted Eagle

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Aquila pomarina | [authority] Brehm, 1831 | [UK] Lesser Spotted Eagle | [FR] Aigle pomarin | [DE] Schreiadler | [ES] Aguila Pomerana | [NL] Schreeuwarend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Aquila pomarina EU e Europe


Members of the genus Aquila have long, broad wings and a medium tail. There are currently fourteen species of large predominantly dark-coloured eagles in the genus Aquila. This genus has a worldwide distribution.

Physical charateristics

Perched bird appears rater uniform chocolate brown. In flight, most adults have upperwing coverts paler than rather dark flight-feathers, but much individual variation, less conspicuous contrast between pale underwing coverts and flight-feathers, these characteristics usually allow distinction from adult A. clanga differs from A. nipalensis in flight, by lack of barring on primaries and tail.
Juvenile brown like adult, but generally darker, with yellow nape patch, spots on upperwing coverts smaller and narrower than in immature A. clanga.Race hastata has slightly longer wings and tarsi and browner iris, juvenile lacks spotting.

Listen to the sound of Lesser Spotted Eagle

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ACCIPITRIFORMES/Accipitridae/sounds/Lesser Spotted Eagle.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 143 cm wingspan max.: 168 cm
size min.: 55 cm size max.: 65 cm
incubation min.: 38 days incubation max.: 41 days
fledging min.: 51 days fledging max.: 41 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Eurasia : East Europe


The Lesser Spotted Eagle breeds in forest but feeds on adjacent pastures, cultivated areas and wet meadows. The breeding habitat consists of montane forest (in the Caucasus), hills, and lowland floodplain areas and also lowland forests. A very important factor in the choice of nest sites is the presence of open landscape near to the nest. It hunts over open fields and agricultural areas. Many types of open landscape are important, but tall crops such as maize or sunflowers inhibit access to prey. In lowlands important features of the feeding habitat are single standing trees or tree groups, hay stacks, masts or other vertical structures enabling successful hunting for the eagle in unfavorable weather conditions such as prolonged rain. During migration and wintering a variety of habitats is used – open landscapes, shrub land, and wetlands – but very little is known about habitat requirements and ecology during this period, which extends over half of the year.


The Lesser Spotted Eagle builds a large nest of sticks on trees below the canopy, mostly in deciduous forest and only rarely in dry pine forest. Very exceptionally nests are built on rocks and on the ground.

Adult plumage is acquired after several (probably 3-4) years. Lesser Spotted Eagles build their own nest, accept artificial nests or those of other large birds (e.g. Common Buzzard, Black Kite, Goshawk, Black Stork). Nests are changed frequently from one year to the other by most pairs but instances are known when eyries where occupied in up to ten consecutive years.

Feeding habits

The diet consists of small mammals Apodemus, Microtus, Hamster, and sometimes Suslik. Also common in the diet are some species of frogs and other amphibians. In Greece the most important food is snakes and also lizards. Insects and several bird species are also taken.

Video Lesser Spotted Eagle


copyright: youtube


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 trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, 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). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The Lesser Spotted Eagle is distributed from central, eastern and south-east Europe, eastwards to Iran. In Europe it occurs as a breeding species in Albania, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine. The total number of pairs of the nominate race A. p. pomarina is unknown but has been estimated to be around 20,000 pairs. Another very rare subspecies – A. p. hastata – exists in parts of India and Bangladesh. In many countries, data on Lesser Spotted Eagle breeding populations are still deficient. This eagle has probably inhabited most of the European continent, but it has been extirpated from the western and south-western parts of its range through constant persecution. Its decrease is still in progress in several countries.
Lesser Spotted Eagle status Least Concern


The Lesser Spotted Eagle is a migratory raptor highly dependent on soaring and thus thermals, avoiding large bodies of water. The species migrates through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania to winter in Central and Southern Africa: southern Zaire, northern Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, southern Angola, Botswana and northern South Africa. In Turkey and Israel the Lesser Spotted Eagle is a passage migrant. Counts of numbers passing through Israel during the autumn migration between 1982 and 1996 have ranged from 50,000 to 140,000 birds. Important concentration points during migration (bottle-neck areas) include Burgas (Bulgaria), the Bosphorus, the Belen Pass (Turkey), Lebanon, Israel, Suez, and Borcka/Arhavi (Caucasus, Turkey). A satellite-tracked juvenile covered 6000 km from Latvia to Sudan in barely a month, remaining there for over 6 weeks, before continuing to Kenya. Adults arrive at breeding grounds in Apr. Race hastata apparently not migratory.

Distribution map

Lesser Spotted Eagle distribution range map


Title Productivity and diet of lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) in Lithuania in 2001-2003
Author(s): Rimgaudas Treinys, Deivis Dementavius
Abstract: In 2001-2003, the data on the productivity and die..[more]..
Source: Acta Zoologica Lituanica, 2004, Volumen 14, Numerus 2

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Title Zum Kainismus beim Schreiader Aquila pomarina
Author(s): Meyburg, B.-U. (2001)
Abstract: Detailed observations were made of Cainism in a Le..[more]..
Source: ornithoecologica 4: 269-278

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Title The Situation of the Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina in Germany: The need for an Action Plan and active Conservation
Author(s): Meyburg, B.-U., T. Langgemach, K. Graszynski & J. Bhner (2004)
Abstract: Since about 1800 the total breeding area of the Le..[more]..
Source: Pp. 601-613 in: Chancellor, R. D. & B.-U. Meyburg (eds.): Raptors Worldwide.

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Title Geschlechtsreife, Ansiedlungsentfernung, Alter und Todes- ursachen beim Schreiadler (Aquila pomarina).
Author(s): Meyburg, B.-U., T. Belka, St. Danko, J. Wjciak, G. Heise, T. Blohm & H. Matthes (2005)
Abstract: To date there are no definite conclusions as to th..[more]..
Source: Limicola 19: 153-179

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Title Genetic differentiation and hybridization between Greater and Lesser Spotted Eagles (Accipitriformes: Aquila clanga, A. pomarina)
Author(s): Helbig, A.J., Seibold, I., Kocum, A., Liebers, D., Irwin, J., Bergmanis, U., Meyburg, B.-U., Scheller, W., Stubbe, M. & S. Bensch (2005)
Abstract: Greater and lesser spotted eagles (Aquila clanga, ..[more]..
Source: J. Ornithol. 226-234

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Title Predicted and observed migration speed in Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina.
Author(s): Hedenstrom A.
Abstract: Satellite telemetry has recently been used to trac..[more]..
Source: ARDEA 85 (1): 29-36

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