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Greater Spotted Eagle
Clanga clanga

Status: Vulnerable

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Aquila clanga, Aquila maculata, Lophaetus clangus, Greater Spotted-eagle, Large Spotted Eagle, Spotted Eagle.

Clanga clanga
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical/Indomalayan/Palearctic. East central Europe east through RUSSIA to southern SIBERIA and northeastern CHINA, with isolated breeding populations in northern IRAN and north-central INDIA; winters from southern Europe south to northeastern and eastern Africa (KENYA, ZAMBIA) and in the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Transcaucasia through northern PAKISTAN to southern and eastern CHINA and JAPAN, south through Indochina to the MALAY PENINSULA and SUMATRA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: The molecular phyogenetics analysis of Helbig et al. (2005), using DNA sequences of one mitochondrial and two nuclear genes, showed that the Lesser Spotted Eagle and Greater Spotted Eagle form a monophylum with each other and the Long-crested Eagle. They recommended that they be merged into the genus Lophaetus, which would also include the closely related A. hastatus, requiring the name change from clanga to clangus for gender reasons. Some systematists (e.g., Wink and Sauer-Gürth 2004) would favor merging the genus Lophaetus into Aquila. The molecular phylogenetic analysis of Lerner and Mindell (2005) also supported these relationships, and they found that this clade also includes the Black Eagle of Asia, traditionally placed in a separate genus Ictinaetus. Välï (2002) and Lerner and Mindell (op cit.) also confirmed a very close relationship between Lesser and Greater Spotted Eagles, stating that they were significantly different genetically, but more closely related to each other than any of the other accipitrid taxa that they studied. Instances of hybridization between this species and the Lesser Spotted Eagle have been reported in all countries where they are sympatric, except for Russia (Lohmus and Välï 2001, Meyburg and Meyburg 2007). more....

Movements: Complete long distance migrant (Bildstein 2006). more....

Habitat and Habits: Breeds in large wet deciduous forests bordering humid meadows, bogs, marshes, and other wetlands up to about 1,000 m (Meyburg et al. 1999). In Asia, it is found in taiga forest, forest-steppe with wetlands, and wetlands and farmland/forested areas are preferred in winter (Brazil 2009). Migrating and wintering birds sometimes frequent more open and often drier habitats. Perches on power poles and fenceposts. On its wintering range in Malaysia, these eagles roost or loaf alone, or in small groups, and although they forage singly, several may wait peacefully in a loose group around a field being worked by a tractor (Wells 1999). This species also sometimes frequents garbage dumps. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on small mammals (to the size of hares), birds (including waterfowl), amphibians, lizards, snakes, frogs, small fish, carrion, and insects (Meyburg et al. 1999). In many areas, the main prey item is the Northern Water Vole (Arvicola terrestris). Hunts for prey in flight or from a perch in a tree (Flint 1984). Birds wintering in Malaysia ate carrion, principally dead rats, which were poisoned in agricultural areas (Wells 1999). This species engages in kleptoparasitism from each other and from other raptor species (e.g., Mallalieu 2007). more....

Breeding: Builds a large stick nest placed below the canopy in a tree in a deciduous forest (rarely in conferous forest). The old nest of another species of raptor or Black Stork is sometimes used. Clutch size is usually 2 (occasionally 1 or 3) white eggs with reddish-brown markings. Incubation starts with the laying of the first egg and lasts for about 42 days. The nestling period is 63-67 days (Meyburg et al. 1999). Usually, only one chick survives, as then result of cainism (Meyburg and Pielowski 1991). more....

Conservation: Although this species has a much more extensive distribution than the Lesser Spotted Eagle, it has a smaller global population, It is rare and declining in the western portions of its range due to habitat alteration caused by forestry and wetland drainage, afforestation of former cultivated areas, nest disturbance, nest robbing, shooting, and deliberate and accidental poisoning, particularly by zinc phosphide (Meyburg et al. 1999). The effects of hybridization with Lesser Spotted Eagles in Estonia and other countries are not yet clear, but the range of the latter species appears to be advancing eastward at the expense of the Greater Spotted Eagle (Väli 2004, 2009). A Species Action Plan has been produced for Europe (Meyburg et al. 1999). The Greater Spotted Eagle is classified globally as Vulnerable by BirdLife International, but is presently being considered for downlisting (Bird and Symes 2009). It is apparently still quite common in the western Siberian lowlands from the Ural Mountains to the Middle Ob and onward to eastern Siberia, and it is quite possible that its population exceeds 10,000 individuals, the threshhold for listing as Vulnerable (Bird and Symes op cit.). more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimated the global population (defined as the number of adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season) in the range of 1,001 to 10,000 individuals, but suggested that the higher figure seemed quite unlikely. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of mature birds at 5,000 to 13,200 individuals. The European population was estimated at 890 to 1,100 breeding pairs by BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council (2000) and later revised to 810 to 1,100 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). more....

Important References: 
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
BirdLife International. 2000. Threatened birds of the world. Lynx
  Edicions, Barcelona, Spain, and BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Graszynski, J., B. Komischke, and B.-U. Meyburg. 2001. [On the biology of
  the Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga.] Acta Ornithoecologica 4:337-376.
Graszynski, J., B. Komischke, and B.-U. Meyburg. 2004. On the biology of
  the Greater Spotted Eagle. Pp. 62-75 in R. Yosef, M.L. Miller, and D. Pepler
  (eds.), Raptors in the new millennium. International Birding & Research
  Center in Eilat, Eilat, Israel.
Helbig, A.J., A. Kocum, I. Seibold, and M.J. Braun. 2005. A multi-gene
  phylogeny of aquiline eagles (Aves: Accipitriformes) reveals extensive
  paraphyly at the genus level. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Karyakin, I. 2008. [The Greater Spotted Eagle in the Volga region, Ural
  Mountains]. Raptors Conservation 11:23-69. (In Russian with English summary)
Komischke, B., K. Graszynski, and B.U. Meyburg. 2001. Zur Biologie des
  Schelladlers Aquila clanga [On the biology of the Greater Spotted Eagle
  Aquila clanga]. Acta Ornithoecologica 4:337-376.
Lerner, H.R., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Phylogeny of eagles, Old World
  vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:327-346.
Meyburg, B.U. 1994. Greater Spotted Eagle. P. 193 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Meyburg, B.-U., L. Haraszthy, M. Strazds, and N. Schäffer. 1999. European
  Species Action Plan: Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga). In N. Schäeffer
  and U. Gallo-Orsi (eds.), European Union Actions Plan for eight priority
  bird species. European Commission, Luxembourg.

Sites of Interest:
Red Data Book Threatened Birds of Asia
Detailed information on status, threats, and proposed conservation actions.
BirdLife International
Information on current status and recommended conservation actions.
Greater Spotted Eagle photos.
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations.

Galushin, Vladimir
Gurung, Surya
Ivanovski, Vladimir
Jais, Markus
Karyakin, Igor
Le Manh, Hung
Meyburg, Bernd-U.
Nikolenko, Elvira
Saharudin, Muhd Hakim
Sandor, Attila
Vyas, Virag
Waks, V.J.

Last modified: 9/25/2014

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Jan. 2021

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