Members of the genus Hieraaetus are small to medium-sized eagles, with long and pointed wings; a longish tail, and feathered legs. They are very active eagles, not given to eating carrion, and found usually in lightly forested country. The genus is difficult to separate from Aquila, Spizastur and Spizaetus. Some species have at one time or another been placed in more than one genus, and some references combine Hieraaetus with Aquila. The main species are: Hieraaetus fasciatus of southern Eurasia, the Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus of Eurasia, Hieraaetus morphnoides of Australia and the New Guinea race – Hieraaetus morphnoides weiskei, the smallest of all the booted eagles; Hieraaetus dubius of Africa and Hieraaetus kienerii of India.
It is a very dashing and attractive little eagle, with very swift flight, often diving into and weaving in and out among tree tops.
Listen to the sound of Booted Eagle
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|wingspan min.:||110||cm||wingspan max.:||135||cm|
|size min.:||42||cm||size max.:||51||cm|
|incubation min.:||36||days||incubation max.:||38||days|
|fledging min.:||50||days||fledging max.:||38||days|
The nest is usually built in trees, 20-50 feet up, and is a solid structure of sticks about three to four feet across and two feet deep, lined with sprigs of pine or green leaves. Where trees are scarce, crags may be used. It is used year after year, and a pair may have more than one nest. Two eggs are normally laid, sometimes one, at intervals of several days.
Incubation begins with the first egg – the female only sitting. There is considerable difference in size in the young, and only one usually survives. The male brings food to the nest site during both the incubation period and the fledging period. The young are out of the nest by early August, indicating a total breeding time from eggs to fledging of about three months. The young accompany their parents in the territory for some time after making their first flight.
Video Booted Eagle
Hieraaetus pennatus is a widespread summer visitor to much of south-west and eastern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is small (as few as 4,400 pairs), but was stable between 1970-1990. Trend data were not available for the key Spanish population during 1990-2000, but despite declines in much of south-east Europe, the species probably remained stable overall. Nevertheless, its population size still renders it susceptible to the risks affecting small populations.
It is wintering in sub-Saharan Africa. The population of the European Union is estimated at 2450-4950 breeding pairs. In France and the Iberian Peninsula it seems fairly stable, but everywhere else it is declining following degradation and loss of habitat.
A small eagle, about the size of the Common Buzzard. In its pale phase the adults have blackish flight feathers contrasting with white under side, vaguely resembling the Egyptian Vulture. Dark phase birds are easy to confuse with Wahlberg’s Eagle in Africa and melanistic Changeable Hawk-eagle in the East, but are smaller than either, a more variegated brown and more stockily built. Immatures are paler rufous below than those of Ayre’s Hawk-eagle or Bonelli’s Eagle.
The Booted Eagle is a woodland bird, inhabiting both deciduous and coniferous timber, generally in mountainous country up to 10,000 feet, but sometimes also on plains at sea level. It is a very dashing and attractive little eagle, with very swift flight, often diving into and weaving in and out among tree tops. It roosts in trees, or sometimes on crags, and spends much of the day on the wing, soaring at 100-500 feet above its woodland haunts. The pair are very often on the wing together and axe usually not very far apart. If one is watched the other will usually appear. When hunting the bird soars over open country or woodland and generally catches its prey on the ground with a fast stoop from height. It may be able to surprise birds on tree branches by its swift dives into the foliage from above. It hunts far more on the wing than do buzzards, which helps to identify it, and pairs often hunt close together.
It is, in part, a migrant from Europe in winter, but many birds are resident most of the year in their breeding haunts. Southward migration extends from late August to November, and migrants reach the plains of India and Africa, as far south as Malawi, from late September onwards. It seems likely that only northern birds migrate. Because of this it is, in its African wintering area, quite uncommon and seldom observed. On migration the birds follow the well-known routes and do not cross extensive areas of water – this is common behaviour among soaring birds, as crossing large areas of water requires long periods of sustained flapping flight, for which they are nor equipped. Going south they move in small flocks, perhaps in company with flocks of other raptors such as buzzard species. They are usually single or in pairs when returning northward.
The southward departures start late August, and European breeding grounds are deserted by mid-October, although some birds persist in Turkey, northern Iran, southern France, and north-west Africa into November. First birds return to breeding grounds in north-west Africa in February (most in March), in France in late March, in Turkey and Iran in early April, and Hungary in mid-April. European breeding populations enter and leave continent mainly via short sea-crossings of Bosporus and Straits of Gibraltar, and around eastern end of Black Sea, though also regular passage across Sicilian Channel between Italy and Tunisia. Small numbers may also cross Mediterranean at wider points as shown by occurrences on Balearic Islands, Malta, and Crete. Straits of Gibraltar passage is the largest, involving population of Iberia and France, main autumn passage there mid-September to early October. Return movement protracted, probably due to immature birds; from mid-March to end of May.