Short-toed Eagle

Circaetus gallicus Gmelin, 1788

Order Falconiformes

Family Accipitridae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU=D[1], BDA-II; International: CITES-II, BeC-II, BoC-II, ESC-Spec 3, BD-I.

General distribution. An Indo-African species distributed in Eurasia from the Pyrenean peninsula, France, Italy, the Balkan Peninsula, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Byelorussia, Estonia, the Ukraine, Russia in the north to the St. Petersburg region, Asia Minor, to Western China and India; in Africa from Morocco to Egypt.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant, in the past widely distributed and frequently breeding in valleys and mountains [1]. For the 1950-1980 period it is considered that "it was found more and more rarely". The numbers are estimated at 50-100 pairs [2], which is probably a reduced assessment in view of the large number of new habitats found after 1990 [3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. At present, it is mainly found in hilly and low-mountainous parts of the country: the mountains Eastern Rhodopes [6, 7], Sakar [5], the Derventski Vazvisheniya (hills), Strandzha [3], Sredna gora [8], the Eastern Balkan range, the area in front of the Balkan range, the Ludogorie region [4]. Singular pairs have also been registered in the higher mountains and valleys: the mountains Rila and Pirin, the mountains on the western border, the Thracian lowland [9, 10], the valley of the Danube [4, 11]. Numbers are estimated at 300-360 pairs.

Habitats. Thinned deciduous and rarely coniferous forests close to open terrains, pastures and meadows.

Biology. It breeds on trees, mainly deciduous. The building of the nest is from the end of April to the beginning of May. It lays one egg. Young ones having just left their nest have been observed at the end of July and the beginning of August [2, 9, 10]. It mainly feeds on snakes, lizards and frogs, less often on small mammals and insects [2].

Negative factors. Large-scale forestation, clearcutting and fires. Catching birds for stuffing. Lethality caused by clashes with electric posts and high-voltage lines; direct persecution; disturbance.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985). Included in popular editions dealing with the preservation of predatory birds. Some of the breeding pairs are in Protected Territories.

Conservation measures needed. Targeted studies on the numbers, the biology, the ecology and the threats for the species. Preparation and adoption of Management Plans for the protected territories in which it is found. Declaration of new Protected Territories: the Eastern Rhodopes Natural Park and the Tundzha Gorge Protected Locality. Increase of the nature conservation culture of hunters and foresters. Inclusion of a text on birds of prey in the textbooks for primary education.

References. 1. Jordans, 1940; 2. Simeonov et al. 1990; 3. Milchev, 1994; 4. Kostadinova, 1997; 5. Stoychev, 1997; 6. Hristov, 1997; 7.Stoychev et al. 1997; 8. Petrov, 1981; 9. Domuschiev, unpubl. data; 10. Stoychev, unpubl. data; 11. Shurulinkov, 2005.

Authors: Stoycho Stoychev, Dobromir Domuschiev, Iliya Vatev

Short-toed Eagle (distribution map)

Short-toed Eagle (drawing)