Photo: Bonelli eagle
Bonelli eagle

Headline: Persian eagles

By Willian L. Hanaway, Jr.
Encyclopaedia Iranica

EAGLES (oqab) large, diurnal, raptorial birds of the family Accipitridae in several genera. Ten species of eagles occur at least seasonally in Persia, nine of which also occur in Afghanistan. The following species are known to occur in Persia and Afghanistan:

Pallas's fish eagle, Haliæetus leucoryphus, ranges throughout Asia, is vagrant in Persia, eastern Arabia, and Oman, and is probably a winter visitor in western Afghanistan. It breeds from the Caspian to central China and Mongolia. Its habitat is inland lakes and rivers, though it occasionally winters in coastal regions.

The white-tailed eagle, Haliæetus albicilla, ranges throughout the trans-Palearctic, from Greenland through Europe into Asia. Adults reside and breed on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and winter in northern and western Persia, the Persian Gulf coast, and the Sistan basin. The young often disperse in winter, occasionally reaching Egypt, Israel, Iraq, and southern Persia.

The short-toed eagle, Circaetus gallicus, ranges throughout southern and eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India, and Central Asia; it resides in Persia along the Persian Gulf; it breeds as a summer visitor throughout Persia, and is a passage migrant in Afghanistan.

The lesser spotted eagle, Aquila pomarina, is a breeding summer visitor in northwestern Persia and on the Caspian coast as well as in eastern Germany, Russia, the Balkans, and Turkey. It breeds in moist wooded plains and dry mountain woods. It winters in East Africa from southern Sudan to Zimbabwe, and occasionally in the eastern Mediterranean, and nests in trees.

The spotted eagle, Aquila clanga, is a resident of the south coast of the Caspian Sea, a winter visitor throughout Persia, and a passage migrant or winter visitor in Afghanistan. It breeds from eastern Europe to Manchuria. Its western Palearctic population winters in northern Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, Iraq, Persia, Israel, and the Nile delta. Its habitat is usually near water, especially in marshes with some trees.

The steppe eagle or tawny eagle, Aquila rapax orientalis, mainly resides in breeding areas; the subspecies A. r. orientalis breeds east of the Black Sea through the high steppes of Central Asia to Mongolia; most winter in tropical Africa. It is resident in southern Baluchistan, a winter visitor in southwestern Persia, and a passage migrant or winter visitor in Afghanistan. Its habitat is dry regions in mountains or plains and rubbish dumps in desert towns. It nests on mounds, ruins, or small trees.

The imperial eagle, Aquila heliaca heliaca, breeds from the Balkans to Central Asia; is a resident in the eastern Alborz Mountains and western Kopet Dag; is a partial migrant; winters in Afghanistan, Turkey, Persia, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Oman, Yemen, and central and eastern Saudi Arabia; and is a vagrant in Syria, Libya, and Morocco. Its habitat is parklike plains, steppes, and marshes; it builds substantial nests in large trees.

The golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos, ranges across the Holarctic. Found in Europe, Asia, and North America, its range in the Palearctic region extends from the Sahara and the shores of the Mediterranean to the tundra of northeastern Asia. A. c. homeyeri is distributed from Spain and North Africa east through Turkey and Persia; is a resident in mountainous and upland areas of western and northern Persia; and also breeds in highland Turkey, isolated areas of North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Israel, and possibly Afghanistan. Its habitat is barren mountainsides, and locally it can also be found in upland and lowland forests, and on plains and semideserts with trees. It nests on rocky ledges, sometimes in trees.

The booted eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus, breeds as a summer visitor in North Africa, Spain, southern Europe, Turkey, Iraq, northern Persia, southern Russia, and Mongolia, and probably in Nurestan, Afghanistan. It winters in sub-Saharan Africa and India; a few winter in Yemen, and oc-casionally eastern Arabia, the eastern Mediterranean, and North Africa. Its habitat is deciduous and pine forests with clearings; it is seldom found far from trees. It usually nests in trees but also on cliffs; it breeds in broadleaf forests and in mixed woodland on the slopes of mountains.

Bonelli's eagle, Hieraaetus fasciatus fasciatus, is a resident in North Africa, the Mediterranean basin, India, and southern China, but shows some dispersal. It is also a resident throughout Persia, except the northwest and the Caspian coast, and is a vagrant several places in eastern and northwestern Arabia. It breeds in scattered mountainous regions of Turkey, Persia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Arabia, and North Africa; it is recorded from Afghanistan. Its habitat is rocky, mountainous country, but seldom at great altitudes; it descends to the plains and semideserts in winter and nests on precipitous rock-faces, occasionally in trees.


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