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
October 3, 2019

Did Odysseus the Eastern imperial eagle actually sail to Malta like his namesake of yore?

In what had tongues wagging across the island, an Eastern imperial eagle roosted in Malta in November 2015 in what constitutes the only record in history […]
September 28, 2019

The guardian angels of the Eastern imperial eagle in Serbia

With its two metre wingspan, the flight of the Eastern imperial eagle is a striking sight. But this powerful predator has become the prey. After decades […]
September 25, 2019

A mighty predator made helpless at the hands of humans

The eagle is a long-standing symbol of strength and glory, but though triumphant within the animal kingdom, the predator becomes the prey when the Eastern imperial […]
September 20, 2019

How satellite tracking is helping us predict the behavior of the unpredictable Eastern imperial eagle

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 […]