Indian Spotted Eagle Clanga hastata


Justification of Red List Category
This widespread but poorly known species is thought to have a small and declining population. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable. Further research on its status in Cambodia and possibly also elsewhere in South-east Asia may lead to a revised population estimate and a reassessment of its threat status.

Population justification
This species apparently occurs at very low density and nowhere is it common, so, despite its large range, the global population is believed to fall below 10,000 individuals. It is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, equating to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals. Improved knowledge of its status in Cambodia, where it was confirmed to occur following the discovery of a captive individual in 2009, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, may necessitate an upwards revision of the population estimate in the future.

Trend justification
The species is thought to be in decline at a slow to moderate rate, owing to on-going habitat conversion within its large range. Further research, however, is required to provide a more accurate estimate of its rate of decline, and identify the causes.

Distribution and population

Clanga hastata appears to be a widespread species that has always been recorded at very low densities in the lowlands of the Indian subcontinent, occurring in Nepal, India, and Myanmar (Robson 2000, Parry et al. 2002, Rasmussen and Anderton 2005, Tordoff et al. in press). Its presence in Pakistan is questionable (P. Rassmussen in litt. 2016), and it may be extinct in Bangladesh (Robson 2008). Several sightings in Cambodia (e.g. an individual in display flight in February 2007 [per P. D. Round in litt. 2007] were regarded as almost certainly referring to this species, and its occurrence there was confirmed following the discovery of a captive bird in 2009 in a village in Kampong Thom Province (Handschuh et al. 2011). This confirmed record and later confirmed photographic records indicate a wide, possibly patchy distribution within low-lying open deciduous dipterocarp forest mosaics across northern Cambodia (P. Davidson in litt. 2003, Handschuh et al. 2011) However, no focussed survey has been conducted to date. This raises the possibility that the species may have occurred historically across other parts of Southeast Asia, although today it has almost certainly been extirpated from much of this area due to habitat loss, hence declines are inferred in the past.  Ascertaining its true status and distribution is hampered by identification problems, and an unknown proportion of records of this species may actually relate to Greater Spotted Eagle C. clanga. Photographic evidence is therefore usually required to accept sightings


This species is a powerful predator that seizes its, mostly mammalian, prey from the ground whilst quartering over open areas within, or near, forest. It also preys on frogs and birds. It is a tree-nesting species, favouring open habitats such as low intensity agriculture, wetlands and open forest and forest clearings year-round (P. Davidson in litt. 2003). It has only been recorded at low densities, but gaps in its known range may result partly from low observer coverage and difficulties in identifying the species. Its display flight includes switch-backing, wing-clapping and full loops (P. D. Round in litt. 2007). Courtship has been observed from January, with laying in April (Sant et al. 2013).


Although poorly known, this species is undoubtedly threatened by conversion and disturbance of forested habitats within its range. A number of other threats have had negative impacts on many raptor populations in Asia and further research into the threatening processes that may be affecting this species is required.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are recent records from a number of protected areas in India including Keoladeo National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Corbett National Park (W. Clark in litt. 2003), Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (R. Naoroji in litt. 2003). The only records from protected areas in Cambodia are from the Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary and the Preah Vihear Protected Forest (van Zalinge in litt. 2012). These reserves currently receive very little funding from government sources but have been the subject of a long-running landscape conservation project in cooperation between WCS and two government agencies, which does not involve activities specific to A. hastata but does address the broader issues of habitat loss, habitat degradation and widespread hunting. It has also been recorded from the Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area, which is currently being proposed for protection. Although the first confirmed breeding record from Cambodia came from a site within a landscape that includes Bengal Florican Conservation Areas and Community Forests, to date there have been no records of Indian Spotted Eagle from within these particular protected sites.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct national breeding surveys throughout its range to determine its numbers, distribution and status. Undertake research to establish its ecological requirements. Survey suitable habitat in Cambodia to assess its status there. Search for the species in other parts of Southeast Asia to ascertain whether it is present. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status. Protect nest sites in Cambodia and work with local communities to stop collection of wild birds.


65 cm. A stocky, medium-sized eagle with short, broad wings and a rather short tail. Adults are essentially brown and successfully identifying this species requires good views. The gape has 'lips' that are extensive and fleshy and extend to the middle of the eye. The nostril is round. The legs appear longer and thinner due to the tarsii being less thickly feathered. In adults the brown of the plumage is paler, and as a result there is an obvious contrast between the paler wing-coverts and flight feathers, both above and below. The head is large in relation to body size. Similar spp. In flight it shows rounder wings and is lighter, slimmer and less bulky than the Greater Spotted Eagle A. clanga. Greater-spotted has darker wing-coverts than flight feathers. In juvenile and subsequent subadult plumages, the pale spots on the upperwing coverts are smaller and contrast less from the ground colour of the upperwing coverts and flight feathers, than do those of Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga. It is however very similar to this species and not all individuals can be reliably identified. Voice High pitched cackling laugh.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Taylor, J., Allinson, T, Westrip, J.

Jayadevan, P., vanZalinge, R., Round, P., Rasmussen, P., Evans, T., Naoroji, R., Davidson, P., Clark, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Clanga hastata. Downloaded from on 26/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/06/2022.