With its two-metre wingspan, the flight of the Eastern Imperial Eagle is a striking sight. Equally impressive up close, it wears a regal crown of light gold upon its long brown body.

Unlike most eagles, it prefers open countryside, building its nest upon a tall tree with a clear view. But this powerful predator has become the prey. After decades of persecution by humans, the Eastern Imperial Eagle is now one of Europe’s rarest raptors.

The Eastern Imperial Eagle can migrate over huge distances, covering 8000 km in a few short weeks. While most populations breeding in Eastern Europe winter in the Middle East or Africa, not all migrate. Central European populations (in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic) are mostly resident, though some younger birds head to the Balkans, or even Africa, for winter.

But nowhere is safe for this magnificent species. In Central Europe, the greatest human threat is poisoning – either resulting from accidental exposure to pest-control chemicals laid out for rodents, or from the intentional use of illegal poisoned baits deliberately targeting wolves, foxes or birds of prey. Sadly, like many large migratory birds, the Eastern imperial eagle regularly falls victim to electric powerlines. The species is also highly sensitive to human disturbance: critical nesting and foraging areas have been lost due to the increase of intensive farming and forestry since the 1950s.

For more information on the legislation covering this species, as well as maps and research, check out: http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/eastern-imperial-eagle-aquila-heliaca

Threats

  • Illegal shooting
  • Poisoning
December 8, 2021

GPS transmitter leads way to shot Imperial Eagle with 16 pellets in body

On the 20th of September, a team of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) tracked and found a helpless Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) thanks to its GPS/GSM transmitter. Shortly after, the eagle was transferred to the Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Center. There, the veterinarians examined the bird and undoubtedly confirmed the diagnosis. With a broken wing and 16 pellets in its body, the Imperial Eagle was a victim of poaching.
October 6, 2021
Imperial Eagle Alois ©Lisa Lugerbauer

Saving migratory birds in Austria

In the heart of Europe, BirdLife Austria works on the ground every day to protect our feathered friends. Here are two short stories they shared on the work they do to protect birds that […]
August 16, 2021
The nest from afar and from real close (Photoy: Márton Horváth, BirdLife Hungary).

New world record! Four Eastern Imperial Eagle siblings successfully fledge in Hungary

article by PannonEagle Every year, BirdLife Hungary and the Hungarian National Park Directorates inspect all known Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) nests in the country. This summer, 137 eagle chicks were ringed, and three chicks were equipped with satellite transmitters.    During these annual […]
July 22, 2021
Eastern imperial eagle ©Arie Kolders

For the first time ever, two Eastern Imperial Eagle chicks have been tagged with satellite transmitters in Serbia

story by PannonEagle Mima and Mihajlo, the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) chicks from Serbia will be monitored for the first time with the help of satellite […]