- Eastern Imperial Eagle
name = Imperial Eagle
status = VU | status_system = IUCN3.1
status_ref = IUCN2006|assessors=BirdLife International|year=2004|id=1956|title=Aquila heliaca|downloaded=11 May 2006]
trend = down
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
genus = "Aquila"
species = "A. heliaca"
binomial = "Aquila heliaca"
binomial_authority = Savigny,
synonyms = "Aquila heliacea heliacea"
The Imperial Eagle, "Aquila heliaca", is very similar to the
Golden Eagle, but a little smaller (length 80 cm, wingspan 200 cm). It is not as powerful as its relative. This eaglebelongs to the bird of preyfamily Accipitridae.
Imperial Eagles are distributed in South East Europe, West and Central Asia. The
Spanish Imperial Eagle, found in Spainand Portugal, was formerly lumped with this species, the name Imperial Eagle being used in these circumstances; however the two are now regarded as separate species [Sangster, George; Knox, Alan G.; Helbig, Andreas J. & Parkin, David T. (2002): Taxonomic recommendations for European birds. "Ibis" 144(1): 153–159. DOI|10.1046/j.0019-1019.2001.00026.x [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.0019-1019.2001.00026.x PDF fulltext] ] due to significant differences in morphology, [Cramp, S. & Simmons, K. E. L. (1980) Birds of the Western Palearctic, Vol. 2. Oxford University Press, Oxford.] ecology, [Meyburg, B. U. (1994): [210 & 211: Imperial Eagles] . "In:" del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew & Sargatal, Jordi (editors): " Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl": 194-195, plate 20. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-15-6] and molecular characteristics. [Padilla, J. A.; Martinez-Trancón, M.; Rabasco, A. & Fernández-García, J. L. (1999): The karyotype of the Iberian imperial eagle ("Aquila adalberti") analyzed by classical and DNA replication banding. "Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics" 84: 61–66. DOI|10.1159/000015216 (HTML abstract)] [Seibold, I.; Helbig, A. J.; Meyburg, B. U.; Negro, J. J. & Wink, M. (1996): Genetic differentiation and molecular phylogeny of European Aquila eagles (Aves: Falconiformes) according to cytochrome-"b" nucleotide sequences. "In:" Meyburg, B. U. & Chancellor, R. D. (eds): "Eagle Studies": 1–15. Berlin: World Working Group on Birds of Prey.]
In the winter this eagle migrates to Africa, India and China. In Europe, the Imperial Eagle is threatened with extinction. It has nearly vanished from much of its former distribution area, e.g.
Hungaryand Austria. Today the only European area where the population is rising is the Carpathian basin, mainly the northern mountains in Hungary and the southern part of Slovakia. The nesting population in Hungary is around 70-80 pairs.
The monarchy of
Austria-Hungaryonce chose the Imperial Eagle to be its heraldic animal, but this did not help this bird. The eagle's preferred habitat is open country with small woods; unlike some other eagles, it does not live in mountains, large forests or treeless steppes.
The nest is built in trees, which are not surrounded by other trees, so these nests are visible from a long way off, and the eagles may overlook the surroundings. Tree branches are taken in order to build the nest, which is upholstered with grass and feathers.
In March or April the female lays two or three eggs. The chicks hatch after 45 days; often, however, only one will survive to leave the nest, with the others dying before becoming fully-fledged.
This eagle feeds mainly on
susliks (a kind of ground squirrel), and in addition on other rodents, martens, foxes and birds.
* [http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3535&m=0 BirdLife Species Factsheet.]
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