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Indian Spotted Eagle
Lophaetus hastatus

Status: Vulnerable

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Aquila hastata, Indian Spotted-eagle, Long-legged Eagle, Small Indian Spotted Eagle.

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Lophaetus hastatus
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Distribution: Indomalayan. Northern INDIA, PAKISTAN, BHUTAN, BANGLADESH, MYANMAR, and possibly CAMBODIA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Although it was originally regarded as specifically distinct from the Lesser Spotted Eagle (Lophaetus pomarinus), the two forms were treated as a single species by Hartert (1914-1922) and most subsequent authorities until recently. Parry et al. (2002) provided conclusive evidence that this form should be treated as a full species on the basis of differences from L. pomarinus in external morphology, osteology, behavior, and clutch size. This conclusion was also supported by the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene studies of Väli (2006), which showed that the genetic distance between L. hastatus and the Greater and Lesser Spotted Eagles is larger than between the two latter species at this locus. The molecular phylogenetic analyses of Seibold (1994), Seibold et al. (1996), Helbig et al. (2005) and Lerner and Mindell (2005) indicated that Aquila clanga and A. pomarina (and thus A. hastata) form a monophylum with each other and the Long-crested Eagle. They recommended that these species be merged into the genus Lophaetus, requiring the name change from hastata to hastatus for gender reasons. Wells and Inskipp (2012) proposed that the three spotted eagle species be placed in a new genus, Aquiloides. Some systematists (e.g., Wink and Sauer-Gürth 2004 and Gjershaug 2006) would favor merging the genus Lophaetus into Aquila.

Movements: Sedentary (Parry et al. 2002), unlike the related Lesser and Greater Spotted Eagles, both of which are highly migratory.

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in open woods. cultivation and near water, even in urban gardens (Rasmussen and Anderton 2005). Found in open areas, including low intensity agriculture, wetlands, open forest, and forest clearings (BirdLife International). Prakash (1988, 1996) characterized the preferred habitat as groves of trees surrounded by grassland and fields in summer, and during winter, it prefers marshes close to grassland and forest. Rasmussen and Alderton (2005) commented on its tameness, while perching in trees in paddyfields and sometimes even nesting in large urban parks.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on mammals, which it captures on the ground, and also prey upon frogs and birds. At one nest, Prakash (1996) recorded 10 species of prey, including mammals (47%), birds (33%), reptiles (16%, and amphibians (3%). more....

Breeding: Nesting details are mainly from Prakash (1996). The nest is a circular, flat stucture placed in a fork near the top of a tree. It is built primarily by the female, although the male occasionally brings sticks which she arranges in the nest. Clutch size is usually one egg, sometimes two (n = 26) (Parry et al. 2002). Obligatory siblicide, as is the case with L. pomarinus, has not been confirmed in this species, because none of the few documented two-egg clutches has been observed during the nestling period. Both sexes incubate, with the female doing the majority in the daytime, and the incubation period lasts at least 31 days. The male does all the hunting and brings food to the nest; the female feeds the young and does not begin hunting until the seventh week. At one nest, the nestling period was 71 days (Prakash op cit.). more....

Conservation: The actual status of this newly "re-separated" species is uncertain, but it appears to be a relatively widespread form that has always been recorded at very low density throughout the lowlands of the northern half of the Indian subcontinent (Naoroji 2006). It is clearly threatened by the conversion of forest to agricultural habitat, human encroachment, and disturbance (Prakash 1996, Naoroji op cit.), and Rasmussen and Anderton (2005) also mentioned that it deserts its nest easily. Naoroji (op cit.) listed a number of previously unreported records, and commented that it might be "not so endangered as many believe." Rasmussen and Anderton (2005) described it as "probably uncommon and local," so it may be best categorized as Vulnerable, as BirdLife International has recommended, pending further study. Rasmussen and Anderton (op cit.) and the preparers of the BirdLife fact sheet rightly pointed out that verifying the true status and distribution of this eagle is hampered by identification problems, owing to its similarity to the more common Greater Spotted Eagle. more....

Population Estimates: Prakash (1996) estimated that the world population is probably fewer than 100 pairs, and if that is the case, it is one of the rarest raptor species in the world. However, Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) pointed out that any population estimate for this species would be a "mere guess." BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of mature birds as between 2,500-9,999 individuals, while noting that the supporting data for this estimate are poor.

Important References: 
Ali, S., and S.D. Ripley. 1978. Handbook of the birds of India and
  Pakistan. Vol. 1. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, London.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world.
  Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Gjershaug, J.O. 2006. Taxonomy and conservation status of hawk-eagles
  (genus Nisaetus) in south-east Asia. Ph.D. thesis, Norwegian University of
  Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway;
  http://www.diva-portal.org/ntnu/abstract.xsql?dbid=413.
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. Lesser Spotted Eagle. Pp. 192-193 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.
Naoroji, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher
  Helm, A&C Black Publishers Ltd., London.
Parry, S.J., W.S. Clark, and V. Prakash. 2002. On the taxonomic status of
  the Indian Spotted Eagle Aquila hastata. Ibis 144:665-675.
Prakash, V. 1996. Status, distribution and breeding biology of the Lesser
  Spotted Eagle in Keoladeo National Park. Pp. 357-375 in B.-U. Meyburg, and
  R.D. Chancellor (eds.), Eagle studies. World Working Group on Birds of Prey
  and Owls, Berlin.
Prakash, V. 1989. Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina hastata) nesting
  in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur. Journal of the Bombay Natural History
  Society 85:614.
Rasmussen, P.C., and J.C. Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: the Ripley
  guide. Vols. 1-2. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., and Lynx
  Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Siebold, I. 1994. Untersuchungen zur molekularen Phylogenie der
  Griefvögel anhand von DNA-Sequenzen des mitochondriellen Cytochrom b Gens.
  Ph.D. dissertation. Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany.
Väli, Ü 2006. Mitochondrial DNA sequences support species status for the
  Indian Spotted Eagle Aquila hastata. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists'
  Club 126:238-242.
more....

Sites of Interest:
BirdLife International
Information on current status and recommended conservation actions.

Researchers:
Kothe, Sudhanshu

Last modified: 4/26/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2014. Species account: Indian Spotted Eagle Lophaetus hastatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Apr. 2014








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