Serwis poświęcony przyrodzie województwa podkarpackiego

Lesser spotted eagle

                                      LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE Clanga pomarina

Lesser Spotted Eagle is a large, migratory bird of prey inhabiting Central Europe, the Middle East and India. A successful survey of the species depends on when we go out into the field and how we prepare for it. The birds arrive in Poland at the beginning of April and remain until September. Surveillance is best conducted on clear, sunny days, when it easier to spot them circulating over their feeding grounds.

Centre of the breeding population covers Central-Eastern Europe. Its number is estimated at 13–16 thousand pairs, of which more than 80% is concentrated in Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Romania. Outside Europe, the species can be found in the Middle East and in Russia. The Low Beskids is currently recognized as one of the most important refuge of the species in the European Union.

Species Description
  • Body Mass: to 1600 g
  • Body Length: 61–66 cm
  • Wingspan: 145–168 cm
  • Sexual Dimorphism: minimal, females slightly larger than males
  • Nutrition: carnivore, predator
  • Lifestyle: migratory
  • Lifespan: 8–10 years

Biology and ecology
The Lesser Spotted Eagle, like most birds of prey found in Poland, nests in forests. It prefers mixed forests aged above 80 years. The nest is most often perfectly concealed, and oftentimes outright invisible from the ground. Due to its quite large size, they eagle prefers multi-layered forests with a quite thin structure. Within the Low Beskids and Bieszczady Mountains the eagle prefers Carpathian beech forests which include fir. Most eagles build their nests on firs in the mountains, most often close to streams. An important element of the territory, oftentimes determining the attractiveness of a given area and territory size, are the feeding grounds. In Poland, the Lesser Spotted Eagle mostly hunts in a mosaics agricultural landscape with numerous in boundary strips, patches of fallow land and wetlands in-between fields. In river valleys and mountains, they hunt on semi-natural meadows. The eagle feeds mainly on rodents, which are particularly numerous on the borders of various habitats. The Lesser Spotted Eagle's diet consists of insects, rodents, amphibians, and reptiles. One of the three basic hunting techniques employed by the species, used the least, is to scour the area on foot. Most often, the Lesser Spotted Eagle hunts from the air. Early in the morning or in the evening, due to lack of ascending currents, the birds hunt from ambush. The Lesser Spotted Eagle is a migratory species and it spends 6 months on average in transition and wintering grounds located in middle and southern Africa. They start to reproduce between 4–5 years of age (rarely 3). They most often lay two eggs, but most times only one hatchling is reared. The young birds fly away for the winter with their parents, but later start migrating independently.

Protection and hazards
The most significant threats to the eagles are shootings during migration, mainly in the Middle East. On their breeding grounds, the most significant hazards are adverse environmental changes and an increasing penetration by humans, who scare the birds away during mating season. In the Low Beskids and Bieszczady Mountains, environmental changes are mainly caused by new construction projects, which are often dispersed. This way of land management takes away the birds' hunting grounds, or leads to fragmentation of their habitats.

International law
  • Birds Directive – Appendix I
  • Bern Convention – Appendix II
  • Bonn Convention – Appendix II
IUCN threat category
  • Polish Red Data Book of Animals (2001) – LC (least concern)
  • IUCN Red List of Endangered Species – LC
  • Red List of vanishing and endangered species in Poland (2002) – LC
National legislation
  • strict protection (protective zone is in place around the spotted eagle nests: throughout the entire year, within a radius of up to 100 m, and periodically (from 1.03 to 31.08) – within a radius of up to 500 m from the nests) species requiring active protection



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