Spanish imperial eagle

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Spanish imperial eagle
Aquila adalberti.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Aquila
Species: A. adalberti
Binomial name
Aquila adalberti
C. L. Brehm, 1861
Aquila adalberti distr.PNG

Aquila heliaca adalberti

The Spanish imperial eagle, Iberian imperial eagle or Adalbert's eagle (Aquila adalberti) is a threatened species of eagle that only occurs in central and south-west Spain, adjacent areas of Portugal and possibly northern Morocco[dubious ], although the latter is disputed.[2] Formerly,[3] the Iberian imperial eagle was considered to be a subspecies of the eastern imperial eagle, but is now widely recognised as a separate species due to differences in morphology,[4] ecology,[5] and molecular characteristics.[6][7]

The Spanish imperial eagle averages smaller, 2.5–3.5 kilograms (5.5–7.7 lb), 78–82 centimetres (31–32 in) in length and 180–210 centimetres (71–83 in) in wingspan,[8] and darker than its eastern cousin, and is a resident species (eastern imperial is partially migratory). It feeds mainly on rabbits, but can prey on many other animals, such as partridges, rodents, hares, pigeons, crows, ducks and even small dogs. The species is classified as Vulnerable by IUCN.[1] Threats include loss of habitat, human encroachment, collisions with pylons, and illegal poisoning. There has also been a decline in the rabbit populations, as a result of myxomatosis and other viral illnesses. The current population is estimated at less than 500.

In 2010, there were 279 in Spain and 3 pairs in Portugal, which is an increase of 16 pairs since 2009.[8] Despite showing signs of recovery, it is still a globally threatened species. A small population is protected in Doñana National Park, Spain (descendants from only seven pairs in 1970: Schuhmacher, 1973) but its stronghold is the dehesa woodlands of central and south-west Spain, such as in Extremadura or Seville and Huelva Sierra Norte.

In February 2009, one male of the extremely small Portuguese population was shot.[9]

The binomial commemorates Prince Adalbert of Bavaria.


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Aquila adalberti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ British Ornithologists' Club 1988, p. 89
  3. ^ Sangster et al. 2002
  4. ^ Cramp & Simmons 1980
  5. ^ Meyburg 1994
  6. ^ Seibold et al. 1996
  7. ^ Padilla et al. 1999
  8. ^ a b European Raptor Conservation European This is a national bird of Spain Spanish Imperial Eagle, Aquila adalberti. Accessed 17 May 2011
  9. ^ Encontrado morto o macho do único casal de águia-imperial que nidificou no país (Portuguese)


  • British Ornithologists' Club (1988). Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 108-109. British Ornithologists' Club. ISSN 0007-1595. 
  • Cramp, S. & Simmons, K. E. L. (1980) Birds of the Western Palearctic, Vol. 2. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Ferguson-Lees, James & Christie, David A. (2001): Raptors of the World. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. ISBN 0-618-12762-3
  • Meyburg, B. U. (1994): [210 & 211: Imperial Eagles]. In: del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew & Sargatal, Jordi (editors): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl: 194-195, plate 20. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-15-6
  • Padilla, J. A.; Martinez-Trancón, M.; Rabasco, A. & Fernández-García, J. L. (1999): The karyotype of the Iberian imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) analyzed by classical and DNA replication banding. Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics 84: 61–66. doi:10.1159/000015216 (HTML abstract)
  • Schuhmacher, Eugen (1973): Europe's Paradises
  • Seibold, I.; Helbig, A. J.; Meyburg, B. U.; Negro, J. J. & Wink, M. (1996): Genetic differentiation and molecular phylogeny of European Aquila eagles (Aves: Falconiformes) according to cytochrome-b nucleotide sequences. In: Meyburg, B. U. & Chancellor, R. D. (eds): Eagle Studies: 1–15. Berlin: World Working Group on Birds of Prey.

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