Lesser Spotted Eagle Clanga pomarina


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 trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds 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 ten 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 16,400-22,100 pairs, which equates to 32,800-44,200 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 73% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 44,900-60,500 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. It is placed in the band 40,000 to 60,000 mature individuals. A survey in 2014 counted 47,594 individuals in southern Turkey (S. Oppel in litt. 2014). Whilst c.58,000 individuals were recorded in 2008 during migration counts over the Bosporus (Fülöp et al. 2014).

Trend justification
Although this species may have undergone a decline, recent annual counts in Israel suggest the population has recovered to some extent in recent years (D. Alon in litt. 2006). In Europe, which supports approximately 73% of the global population, the population size is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015).


Behaviour Birds breeding in India are resident, but otherwise this is a migratory species, migrants leaving their breeding grounds between August and November, and returning in March and April (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It relies heavily on soaring flight using thermals, and thus avoids large bodies of water (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Birds are generally observed singly or in pairs, but will congregate at plentiful food sources, and migrate in flocks (Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, Porter and Aspinall 2010). Habitat It breeds near forest edges, preferring moist woodland; most nest in lowlands but it is recorded breeding up to 2,200 m in montane areas (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet Mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are all taken as prey, with different prey types predominating in different parts of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site Nests are built in trees, usually close to the forest edge (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Where populations are struggling, productivity can be increased artificially by ensuring both chicks survive to fledging: in natural conditions one is almost always lost by siblicide, known as cainism (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


The main threats posed to this species are through habitat loss (notably the draining of wet forests and meadows, and on-going deforestation) and hunting (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Meyburg et al. 2014). The latter is especially prevalent on migration, with possibly thousands of birds shot annually in Syria and Lebanon (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Forest management activities are reported to have a negative effect on the species (Dravecký et al. 2015). It is also very highly vulnerable to the impacts of potential wind energy developments (Strix 2012). The Chernobyl nuclear accident may have affected the species (Alon 2000 in Global Raptor Information Network 2015). Construction of the new Istanbul airport could have an impact on the species (S. Oppel in litt. 2014).


55-65 cm. Wingspan 143-168 cm. A medium-sized, dark and compact eagle. Has broad wings with fingered tips and a small bill. Plumage is dark brown with paler head and neck and upperwing-coverts. Shows a small white primary patch above. The underwing-coverts are paler than the flight feathers when seen from below. Juveniles are darker above than adults. They have a rufous patch on the nape. The greater coverts, trailing edge of the wing and tail are tipped white.


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

Alon, D., Flade, M., Galushin, V., Halmos, G., Hilton, G., Meyberg, B., Strazds, M. & Oppel, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Clanga pomarina. Downloaded from on 05/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 05/07/2020.