This species has a small, declining population as a result of the widespread loss, degradation and disturbance of wetlands and breeding sites throughout its range. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _the_WP15.xls.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Use of the genus Helicolestes follows SACC (2006).
Distribution and populationHaliaeetus leucoryphus
76-84 cm. Large eagle with pale brownish hood and black-and-white tail. Adult dark brown, with warm buffish to whitish head, neck and upper mantle and blackish tail with broad, white central band. Juvenile more uniformly dark, with all-dark tail, but in flight shows strongly patterned underwing, with whitish band across coverts and prominent, whitish primary flashes. Similar spp. Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus and White-tailed Eagle H. albicilla both lack combination of dark body, contrasting pale hood and black-and-white tail pattern. Grey-headed is also much smaller. Voice Loud, guttural kha-kha-kha-kha or gao-gao-gao-gao, and sometimes high-pitched, excited yelping. Hoarse guttural continuous kook-kook-kook is commonest call.
occurs across a huge range from Kazakhstan
(may no longer breed, although a positive trend has been noted in the number of records since the late 1990s at least [Kovalenko 2009]), southern Russia
(possibly still breeds), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan
(probably dispersing non-breeders) and Uzbekistan
, east through Mongolia
, south to northern India
. It is a passage migrant and winter visitor to Nepal
and non-breeding visitor to Afghanistan
. The main breeding populations are believed to be in China, Mongolia and the Indian subcontinent. Surveys in Mongolia in June-August 2009 produced observations of a minimum total of 20 birds at eight locations (Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009). It is believed to have declined significantly during the 20th century in China, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The population is likely to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals. Population justification
The global population is estimated to number < c.10,000 mature individuals (by BirdLife International 2001) based on detailed analysis of available records, while the population in China has been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs (Brazil 2009). It is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.Trend justification
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rates of loss, degradation and disturbance of wetland habitats and adjacent nesting trees throughout its range.Ecology
It is closely associated with wetlands, principally large lakes and rivers, from the lowlands to 5,000 m. It generally nests in trees near water. Threats
Key threats are habitat loss, degradation and disturbance. Across the Indian subcontinent, and probably most of its range, wetlands have been drained or converted for agriculture and human settlements. The felling of large trees near wetlands has reduced the availability of nest and roost sites. The spread of water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes
is a problem in India, as is the siltation of lakes due to catchment deforestation. Pollution of wetlands with pesticides and industrial effluents reduces breeding success. Habitat loss and degradation are compounded by disturbance of wetlands. Reductions in the prey base, primarily through hunting and over-fishing, are further consequences of increasing human pressure. In Myanmar, the development of oil and gas fields is a threat and, in China, hunting is a localised problem. In Mongolia, during surveys in summer 2009, it was noted that two recently completed hydroelectric dams were severely disrupting water levels in the affected drainage basins and could potentially affect all sites where the species occurs in the Great Lake Basin (Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009). Over-fishing was also noted at several sites and low rainfall was leading to falling water levels in some areas (Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009).Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II, CMS Appendix II. It occurs in many protected areas across its range such as Corbett, Kaziranga and Manas, India and Chitwan, Nepal. Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out research into the species's breeding ecology (Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009). Conduct surveys in central Asia and Myanmar to establish its status, distribution and threats. Establish protected areas for key populations. Encourage sustainable management of wetland resources. Limit the use of pesticides and control of industrial discharges around wetlands. Control water hyacinth at important breeding/feeding sites. Protect remaining nest-trees and re-establish them around wetlands. Protect nest-sites (and adjacent feeding sites) from disturbance. Promote rural education programmes concerned with wetland birds. Study the impact of hydroelectric dam projects, such as those in Mongolia (e.g. Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009), and monitor the levels of pesticide residues in prey species to indicate whether further measures are required (A. Rahmani in litt
. 2012). Conduct research into the species's ecology and behaviour (A. Rahmani in litt
. 2012) and carry out satellite tracking to study the species's movements (Gilbert and Gombobataar 2009).
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.
Gilbert, M.; Gombobataar, S. 2009. The status and distribution of Pallas's Fish Eagle in Mongolia: a report on field surveys June-August 2009.
Kovalenko, A. V. 2009. Modern records of the Pallas' Fish Eagle in Kazakhstan. Raptors Conservation: 134-139.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).
Hear sounds for this species from xeno-canto, the community database of shared bird sounds from around the world.
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J.
Naoroji, R., Rahmani, A.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Haliaeetus leucoryphus. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 05/12/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 05/12/2013.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.
Additional resources for this species