Hieraaetus pennatus Gmelin, 1788
Aquila pennata (Gmelin): Finsch, 1859: 380; Elwes, Buckley, 1870: 69; Reiser, 1894: 113; Klain, 1909: 79; Peshev, Boev, 1962: 298.
Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU D , BDA-III; International: IUCN-EN, CITES-II, BeC-III, BoC-II, ESC, BD-II.
General distribution. A Turkestan-Mediterranean species distributed in Europe. SW and Central Asia, Northern Africa, New Guinea and Australia. It winters in Africa and India, Ceylon and Burma. In the southern parts of the area it is resident and in the northern ones it is migratory.
Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. At the end of the 19th century it was ubiquitously distributed , but not very frequent . Gradually its numbers decreased to about 100 breeding pairs .At present it is distributed throughout the country, but with a low density: mainly in the Balkan range and the area in front of the Balkan range, the mountains Sredna Gora, Eastern Rhodopes, Strandzha, Sakar, in Dobrudzha and the Ludogorie region. It is more numerous in Eastern Bulgaria . In the Danube valley and the Thracian lowland it is rarer . The breeding population is between 150 and 200 pairs . The numbers are stable, probably with a slight decrease because of the mass felling of old forests in Bulgaria in the last 10 years. During migration it is often found, especially along the Black Sea coast.
Habitats. Old deciduous forests in the semi-mountainous and hilly regions at altitudes of up to 2 000 m and the low parts of the higher mountains.
Biology. The pairs occupy the breeding territory at the end of March and the beginning of April. The courting flight is a characteristic wave-like diving. The nest is located in old deciduous or mixed forests, it rarely breeds on rocks. It lays 2 eggs. Incubation continues for 36 – 39 days, the young ones staying in the nest for about 50 days. It feeds on hamsters and other rodents, birds (doves, thrushes, larks, titmice), reptiles, etc. that it catches in forests and open spaces.
Similar species. Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus).
Negative factors. Mass felling of old forests; disturbance. Destruction of valuable habitats by fires in Southeastern Bulgaria at the beginning of the 21st century. Direct persecution by human poachers.
Conservation measures taken. Some of the pairs breed in Protected Territories: the national parks Central Balkans, Rila and Pirin, the natural parks Rusenki Lom, Strandzha and Vrachanski Balkan, etc.
Conservation measures needed. Discontinuation of the mass felling of old forests. Reduction of disturbance. Sanctioning unconscientious hunters and taxidermists.
References. 1. Reiser, 1894; 2. Patev, 1950; 3. Michev, 1982; 4. Shurulinkov et al., 2005 ; 5. Nankinov et al., 2004.
Authors: Dobromir Domuschiev, Petar Shurulinkov