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Booted Eagle
Hieraaetus pennatus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Booted Hawk Eagle. Aquila pennata

Hieraaetus pennatus
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical/Indomalayan/Palearctic. Southern Europe to southern central Asia and IRAN, east to and west central Himalayas, and from the Altai to northern MONGOLIA and Transbaikalia; disjunct breeding populations in NAMIBIA and SOUTH AFRICA; Eurasian populations are migratory and winter in sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, including SRI LANKA, and the western mainland of Southeast Asia; vagrant to BALI. more....

Subspecies: 3 races. H. p. harterti: Southwestern and central Asia; H. p. minisculus: Southern SOUTH AFRICA (Cape Province); H. p. pennatus: Southern Europe to North Africa, east to central Asia and south to the Caucasus. more....

Taxonomy: The study by Helbig et al. (2005), using DNA sequences from one mitochondrial and two nuclear genes, indicated that the smaller Hieraaetus species, including H. ayresii, H. morphnoides, and H. pennatus, form a monophyletic group with H. (Aquila) wahlbergi as their sister. The majority of raptor systematists (e.g., Wink and Sauer-Gürth 2004, Gjershaug 2006) and several national committees on classification and nomenclature (e.g., those in the United Kingdom and Germany) now favor merging the species formerly assigned to Hieraaetus into Aquila, and they are followed here.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Movements are complex, particularly in southern Africa. European populations are largely migratory, wintering south to the northeastern portion of southern Africa. The small northwestern African populations is mostly migratory, although a few winter. Southern African populations move north to the former Transvaal, Zimbabwe, and possibly Malawi and Mozambique in the post-breeding season, but occur primarily to Namibia. more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in a wide variety of habitats, including open deciduous and coniferous woodland, grassland, desert, and semi-desert. In southern Africa, the resident populations are found in mountainous and broken country with cliff-faces and stunted, dry scrub (Clancey 1985), while wintering birds from Palearctic populations prefer flat plains with open woodland (Kemp and Kemp 1998). Occurs on sea cliffs, a wide range of woodlands, eucalyptus plantations, palm and olive groves, and other forested areas in Morocco (Thévenot et al. 2003). Birds have favorite roost sites in the dead crowns of trees near the nest where they rest and eject pellets (Adamian and Klem 1999). Generally solitary and avoids the vicinity of other raptors (Wells 1999). Usually seen singly or in twos. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Palearctic populations feed mainly on small birds, small mammals and reptiles. African populations feed chiefly on rodents, but also on road-killed birds, lizards, amphibians, locusts and other organisms (Martin and Martin 1976). Bird prey are frequently caught on the wing from ambush or after frightening them, but most prey are caught on the ground or from treetops from a stoop. These eagles occasionally perch on prominent lookouts, or on the ground (Wells 1999). more....

Breeding: Northern populations build a small stick nest lined with green leaves placed near the trunk or on a major branch of a tree, on the ledge of a cliff, or in a tree or bush growing on a cliff. Often uses the old nest of another species, including raptors, crows, and herons (Dal 1954, Flint 1984). Southern African populations nest only on cliffs (Steyn and Grobler 1980). Clutch size is usually 2 eggs (sometimes 1 or 3), which are dull white or greenish-white and marked with spots of various shades of brown, and one clutch is laid per year. The incubation period is 36-38 days, and the female does most of the incubation. Two chicks are usually fledged, and the young leave the nest at about 50 days (Adamian and Klem 1999). more....

Conservation: Widespread and generally common throughout its range, but declining in some areas from loss of forest habitat, disturbance, persecution, and loss of suitable prey (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimated the global population (defned as the number of adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season) at between 10,000 to 100,000 birds. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of adults as between 10,000 to 100,000 birds, but noted that the supporting data are poor. The European population was estimated at 3,600 to 6,900 breeding pairs by BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council (2000), and this was later revised upward to 4,400 to 8,900 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). Pepler et al. (2000) estimated that there were 700 breeding pairs in southwestern Northern Cape Province, Western Cape Province, and western Eastern Cape Province. more....

Important References: 
Amadon, D. 1982. The genera of booted eagles: Aquila and relatives.
  Journal of the Yamashina Institute of Ornithology 14:109-121.
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
Boshoff, A.F., and D.G. Allan. 1997. Booted Eagle. Pp. 184-186 in J.A.
  Harrison et al. (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1:
  Non-passerines. BirdLife South Africa and Avian Demography
  Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Karyakin, I.V. 2007. The Booted Eagle in the Volga region, Ural and
  Siberia, Russia. Raptors Conservation 9:27-62.
Martin, R.J. 2005. Booted Eagle Aquila pennatus. Pp. 535-536 in P.A.R.
  Hockey, W.R.J. Dean, and P.G. Ryan (eds.), Roberts Birds of Southern Africa.
  7th ed. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South
Martínez, J.E., M. Cremades, I. Pagán, and J.F. Calvo. 2004. Diet of
  Booted Eagles Hieraaetus pennatus in southeastern Spain. Pp. 593-599 in R.D.
  Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors worldwide. World Working Group
  on Birds of Prey, Berlin, and MME-BirdLife Hungary, Budapest.
Orta, J. 1994. Booted Eagle. P. 199 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and J.
  Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World vultures
  to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Parry, S.J. 2001. The booted eagles (Aves: Accipitridae): perspectives in
  evolutionary biology. Ph.D. dissertation, University College, London.
Steyn, P., and J.H. Grobler. 1981. Breeding biology of the Booted Eagle in
  South Africa. Ostrich 52:108-118.
Yosef, R., G. Verdoorn, A. Helbig, and I. Seibold. 2000. A new subspecies
  of the Booted Eagle from southern Africa, inferred from biometrics and
  mitrochondrial DNA. Pp. 43-49 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.),
  Raptors at Risk. World Working Group on Birds of Prey, Berlin, and Hancock
  House, Blaine, WA.

Sites of Interest:
Booted Eagle photos.
Booted Eagle
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations

Ferrer, Miguel
Garcia Dios, Ignacio
Gurung, Surya
Iribarren, Juan Jesus
Jais, Markus
Karyakin, Igor
Kim Chye, Lim
Kothe, Sudhanshu
Stephenson, Alan
Steyn, Peter

Last modified: 7/16/2014

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 18 Oct. 2021

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