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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to 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 23,100-29,100 pairs, which equates to 46,300-58,300 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 31% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 149,000-188,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
Overall the population trend is considered unknown. 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 the population size is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).


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, each causing some decline in parts of Europe (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, Orta and Boesman 2013). Declines in the Ukraine are being driven by deforestation (Orta and Boesman 2013). Habitat loss is also due to urbanization, construction of reservoirs and fire. 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). 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).


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N. & Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Hieraaetus pennatus. Downloaded from on 26/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2021.