dcsimg
Unresolved name

Lesser Spotted Eagle

Aquila pomarina C. L. Brehm 1831

Behavior

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Lesser spotted eagles usually fly alone or in pairs. However, they often live with other eagles during the winter, especially greater spotted eagles. Lesser spotted eagles do sometimes hunt with other birds of the same species. They have strong eyesight that they use in finding prey, and good tactile senses used to perch on branches. They walk on the ground when hunting for food. The primary forms of communication in lesser spotted eagles are vocalizations and hearing (acoustic senses) when communicating with mates and with their young. Like most birds, lesser spotted eagles perceive their environments through auditory, visual, tactile and chemical stimuli.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

provided by Animal Diversity Web

The conservation status of lesser spotted eagles is considered to be of least concern. Lesser spotted eagles are not considered vulnerable or threatened, because according to the Red List, the range that lesser spotted eagles occupy is large. Declines in lesser spotted eagle populations have been documented, but these declines are occurring relatively slowly.

Humans are a threat to lesser spotted eagles by hunting them during migration periods. Loss of breeding habitat also contributes to population declines.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Benefits

provided by Animal Diversity Web

There are no known adverse effects of Aquila pomarina on humans. At one point, scientists thought that migrating birds, including lesser spotted eagles, may transmit viruses such as the avian bird flu and West Nile virus to humans. However, birds in the Order Falconiformes do not carry the antibodies necessary to transmit these viruses.

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Benefits

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Eagles in the genus Aquila may benefit to farmers by feeding on small animals that threaten crops. These include rodents (Order Rodentia) such as rabbits (Family Leporidae), small birds (Class Aves), insects (Class Insecta), and reptiles (Order Squamata).

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Associations

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Eagles in the genus Aquila may be beneficial to farmers by eating rabbits (Family Leporidae) and other rodents (Order Rodentia), small birds (Class Aves), insects (Class Insecta), and reptiles (Order Squamata) that threaten crops.

Lesser spotted eagles do not usually contract West Nile Virus. However, this virus is occasionally transmitted from mosquitoes (Family Culicidae). When this occurs, it is typically fatal. Lesser spotted eagles that contract West Nile Virus usually are infected when migrating to Africa for the winter. These birds typically do not survive to return to Europe the following season.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • mosquitoes (Family Culicidae)
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Trophic Strategy

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Although lesser spotted eagles are most often seen alone or in pairs, they often hunt in intraspecific groups. Lesser spotted eagles are carnivorous birds of prey. They generally eat small mammals (Order Rodentia), small birds (Class Aves), amphibians (Order Anura), reptiles (Order Squamata), and occasionally insects (Class Insecta). It is known that lesser spotted eagles often feed on voles (Family Cricetidae). A recent experimental study on pesticide effects demonstrated that lesser spotted eagles that fed on pesticide-infected voles often died. During the winter months, these birds often feed on termites (Order Isoptera). This distinguishes this species from greater spotted eagles, which more often eat carrion during the winter.

When hunting, lesser spotted eagles usually perch on low branches or hunt their prey by walking along the forest floor. Unlike many other birds of prey, they rarely search for prey while flying. Lesser spotted eagles migrate long distances and stop at many places for water and to hunt.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Distribution

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Lesser spotted eagles are found across the Palearctic and Ethiopian regions. During the breeding season, lesser spotted eagles (Aquila pomarina) inhabit areas of western Europe. Their primary breeding areas are in northern Germany, Estonia, Lithuania, and Slovakia. In winter (typically during the month of September), lesser spotted eagles migrate to the warmer climates of South Africa and Mozambique. The specific location of their winter habitat is dependent on the location of their breeding grounds.

Greater spotted eagles and lesser spotted eagles show very similar migration patterns during both the breeding and wintering seasons. This may contribute to the commonly noted hybridizations between these two species.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); mediterranean sea (Native )

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Habitat

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Lesser spotted eagles live primarily in patchy woodland areas, meadows, fields, and natural grasslands, often in moist environments. Although forests are not used as primary habitat, they often build nests near forest edges. Lesser spotted eagles have been found in African dry mountain and grassland savanna habitats during their winter migration. Within these dry mountain habitats, their range typically extends to a maximum elevation of 2,200 meters.

Lesser spotted eagles generally hunt by walking along the ground. However, they typically nest and perch in the branches of forest trees. When nesting and perching, lesser spotted eagles often use branches closer to the ground rather than higher in the trees.

Range elevation: 2,200 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Life Expectancy

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Lesser spotted eagles have a maximum lifespan of 20 to 25 years. Threats include local conditions of their habitat, prey abundance, deliberate poisoning, and hunting. Average annual mortality is 35% per year for juveniles, 20% for immature birds, and 5% for adults. Because of these threats, the average lifespan of lesser spotted eagles typically ranges from 8 to 10 years.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
20 to 25 years.

Typical lifespan
Status: wild:
8 to 10 years.

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Morphology

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Lesser spotted eagles are medium-sized birds (body length 54 to 65 cm), generally smaller than steppe eagles (Aquila nipalensis) (60 to 81 cm) and greater spotted eagles (A. clanga) (59 to 71 cm). The largest of these three species are steppe eagles, weighing 1.8 to 3.8 kg. Thus, despite their relatively large size, lesser spotted eagles only weigh 1.2 to 2.2 kg, with an average of 1.6 kg. Greater spotted eagles are just slightly heavier (1.4 to 3.2 kg) than lesser spotted eagles.

Adult lesser spotted eagles also are distinguished by their yellow eyes, whereas adult steppe eagles and greater spotted eagles have brown eyes. Juveniles of all three species have brown eyes. The head and wings of lesser spotted eagles are a lighter shade of brown compared to the rest of its body; in steppe eagles and greater spotted eagles, the entire body is a dark shade of brown. Lesser spotted eagles also have a small head and beak for an eagle. Like other eagles in the genus Aquila, lesser spotted eagles have a white V mark on their rump. Finally, differences in the shape of the wings cause lesser spotted eagles to appear to have a longer tail (96.6 to 123.75 cm) than other closely related species. Lesser spotted eagles have narrower wingspans (145 to 165 cm), whereas greater spotted eagles have broader wingspans.

These closely related eagle species can be most readily distinguished during their juvenile stages. In each species, juvenile birds differ greatly compared to adults. For example, juvenile greater spotted (A. clanga) and lesser spotted (A. pomarina) eagles have numerous white spots on upper wing coverts (a set of feathers that covers other feathers) and on their backs. Greater spotted eagles have more abundant spots than lesser spotted eagles. It is these spots that give the "spotted eagles" their common names.

Range mass: 1.2 to 2.2 kg.

Average mass: 1.6 kg.

Range length: 54 to 65 cm.

Range wingspan: 145 to 165 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Associations

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Lesser spotted eagles and greater spotted eagles have no natural predators and show no evident anti-predation adaptations. The primary threat to lesser spotted eagles is humans. Humans are a danger to lesser spotted eagles because of chemical usage, such as Azodrin, an organophosphorous insecticide used to prevent small animals from feeding on crops. Raptors, including lesser spotted eagles, often die from feeding on these poisoned animals. Another human impact on lesser spotted eagles is through hunting.

Lesser spotted eagles are often shot by hunters as they migrate to their wintering grounds. Declines in habitat availability also have been reported in Germany and other areas due to increased agriculture.

Another cause of mortality in lesser spotted eagles is siblicide. If there are two or three eggs in a nest, typically the offspring that hatches first kills the others by knocking them out of the nests, attacking them, or by eating food before their siblings have a chance to eat. As a result, most lesser spotted eagles only raise one to two offspring successfully.

It has been suggested that lesser spotted eagle eggs may be eaten by other animals, particularly snakes (Order Squamata); however, this has not been clearly documented. In greater spotted eagles, eggs are eaten by American minks (Neovison vison). Therefore, it is possible that minks may also prey on lesser spotted eagle eggs.

Known Predators:

  • humans (Homo sapiens)
  • snakes (Order Squamata)
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Reproduction

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Lesser spotted eagles are considered monogamous birds. Currently there is no clear evidence of partner fidelity, however most birds return to the same nest every year.

Mating System: monogamous

Lesser spotted eagles breed once per year. The pair builds a platform nest, generally in a tall tree. Egg laying begins after the nest is complete in late April to early May. It is believed that males are responsible for defending the immediate vicinity around the nest. Lesser spotted eagles lay one to two eggs, but typically only one survives. The older or stronger sibling usually attacks the weaker one. Eggs are laid in the second half of April and between May 23 and 27. The egg incubation period ranges from 36 to 41 days. Fledglings have been observed in the middle of July, with a fledging period up to eight weeks. No information is available on the time to independence for lesser spotted eagles; however, golden eagles require 32 to 80 days after fledging before they are independent of their parents. Juvenile lesser spotted eagles do not reach reproductive age until they are 3 to 4 years old.

Breeding interval: Lesser spotted eagles breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Breeding season is between late March or beginning of April and late August.

Range eggs per season: 1 to 2.

Average eggs per season: 2.

Range time to hatching: 36 to 41 days.

Average time to hatching: 38 days.

Range fledging age: 6 to 8 weeks.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3 to 4 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 to 4 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Lesser spotted eagle females lay two eggs and stay with them continuously while males forage for food. After the eggs hatch, both parents tend the helpless, altricial young until fledging occurs, typically after 8 weeks. Siblicide is common in this species, thus only one offspring typically survives to fledge.

Parental Investment: altricial ; male parental care ; female parental care ; pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male)

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Jackson, J. and M. Mengestab 2011. "Aquila pomarina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Aquila_pomarina.html
author
Jasmine Jackson, Radford University
author
Meron Mengestab, Radford University
editor
Christine Small, Radford University
editor
Rachelle Sterling, Special Projects
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web