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Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

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.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _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.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Spizaetus nanus, S. lanceolatus, S. philippensis, S. pinskeri, S. nipalensis, S. alboniger and S. bartelsi (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) and S. cirrhatus and S. floris (Gjershaug et al. 2004) have been transferred into the genus Nisaetus following Haring et al. (2006). S. africanus and Hieraaetus fasciatus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) have both been transferred into Aquila, also following Haring et al. (2006); and H. kienerii (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been transferred into the resurrected genus Lophotriorchis. The BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group is aware that phylogenetic analyses have been published which have proposed moving H. pennatus into Aquila but as not all published studies are concordant we prefer not to take a decision on this until cladogenesis of the 'booted eagles' has been resolved.

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).

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K. and Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Martinez-Lopez, E., Maria-Mojica, P., Martinez, J.E., Calvo, J.F., Wright, J., Shore, R.F., Romero, D. and Garcia-Fernandez, A.J. 2007. Organochlorine residues in booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) and goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) eggs from southeastern Spain. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 26(11): 2373-2378.

Orta, J. and Boesman, P. 2013. Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

STRIX. 2012. Developing and testing the methodology for assessing and mapping the sensitivity of migratory birds to wind energy development. BirdLife International, Cambridge.

Thiollay, J.-M. 2007. Raptor population decline in West Africa. Ostrich 78(2): 405-413.

Tucker, G.M. and Heath, M.F. 1994. Birds in Europe: their conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

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

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Hieraaetus pennatus. Downloaded from on 30/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/11/2015.

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

ARKive species - Booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Gmelin, 1788)
Population size 149000-188000 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,200,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change
- 2015 European Red List assessment