Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population is suspected to be stable, therefore it does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 23,300-30,300 pairs, which equates to 46,600-60,500 mature individuals (BirdLife International in prep.). Europe forms approximately 31% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 150,000-195,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. The North African population is estimated to be c.10,000 pairs or 20,000 mature individuals (Garrido et al. in prep.).

Trend justification
This species is declining locally owing to forest destruction, human disturbance and persecution and reduction in prey species (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). In Europe and North Africa the population size is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International in prep.; Garrido et al. in prep.). Overall the population trend is considered stable (Global Raptor Information Network 2021; Orta et al. 2020).


Behaviour The species is mainly migratory, although populations in the northern Indian Subcontinent and in the Balearic Islands are resident. Migratory birds winter in southern Africa and southern Asia; northern birds leave their breeding grounds in September and return in March and April, and those breeding in South Africa move northwards in March and return in August (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Migrants are thought to partially cross water on a broad front (assumed from regular occurrence on islands across the Mediterranean), but nevertheless many pass through bottleneck short crossing points each season. Birds tend to be seen singly or in pairs, and even on migration rarely form groups of more than five, and stay away from other raptors (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Birds soar c.200-300 m above the ground when hunting (Brown et al. 1982). Habitat It is a species of open woodland, preferring patches of forest interspersed with open areas; it is recorded up to 3,000 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet Small birds are the most important part of its diet (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site Nests are built in trees (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information A mixture of woodland and open areas such as agricultural fields is optimal for this species (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


Threats affecting the species include habitat degradation, direct persecution and human disturbance (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, Orta and Boesman 2013). Declines in the Ukraine are being driven by deforestation (Orta and Boesman 2013). Habitat loss in Europe is also due to abandonment of grassland management, agricultural intensification, urbanization, afforestation and fire (pressures and threats data reported by EU Member States under Article 12 of the Birds Directive for the period 2013-2018). In its West African range, the species may be vulnerable to habitat degradation through wood harvesting, overgrazing, and burning as well as exposure to pesticides (Thiollay 2007). The accumulation of organochloride pesticides in wintering areas may affect the species’s reproductive success (Tucker and Heath 1994). In the past, organochlorine contamination may have been a contributory factor in the population decline in south-east Spain (Martinez-Lopez et al. 2007). It is also highly vulnerable to the impacts of potential wind energy developments (Strix 2012). Powerlines were responsible for 19.5% of Booted Eagles mortalities in Spain during 1990-2006, with the number of cases increasing throughout the period (Martinez et al. 2016). In the same study, illegal killing was responsible for 32.5% of mortalities, however the number of cases decreased significantly during the study period. The majority (19.5%) of killings were shootings, however nest robbing and captivity, trapping, and poisoning also occurred (Martinez et al. 2016). Poaching was also identified as a threat in Armenia, primarily due to fears over them killing domestic birds such as chickens and pigeons (Aghababyan & Stepanyan 2020). Several Booted Eagles were shot during migration on Malta in 2016 (RSPB 2017). The trade of this species in Moroccan markets has been reported (Garrido et al. in prep.). Human disturbance caused by forestry management or harvesting of forest resources near nesting territories may reduce reproductive success (Garcia Dios & Vinuela 2000; Garrido et al. in prep.).

Conservation actions

Conservation actions underway
CITES Appendix II, CMS Appendix II, Raptor MOU Category 3, EU Birds Directive Annex I. Systematic breeding schemes are in place in at least four European countries (Derlink et al. 2018). 

Conservation actions needed
Implement public education programmes to reduce mortality caused by persecution. Ensure enforcement of laws against illegal hunting and trapping. Improve facilities for protection of domestic birds to prevent human-animal conflict. Mitigate against deaths caused by powerlines, and evaluate the efficacy of these measures.


Text account compilers
Haskell, L.

Khwaja, N., Ashpole, J, Ekstrom, J. & Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Hieraaetus pennatus. Downloaded from on 26/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/03/2023.