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Imperial Eagle

Imperial Eagle
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Aquila heliaca
The Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) is very similar to the Golden Eagle, but a little smaller (length 80 cm, wingspan 200 cm). It is not as powerful as its relative. This eagle belongs to the bird of prey family Accipitridae.

Imperial Eagles are distributed in South East Europe, West and Central Asia. There is another population in Spain, considered as a supspecies or sometimes even a separate species (Spanish Imperial Eagle, or Adalbert's Eagle). In the winter this eagle migrates to Africa, India and China.

In Europe, the Imperial Eagle is threatened with extinction. It has vanished from much of its former distribution area, e.g. Hungary and Austria. A population is preserved in Doņana National Park, Spain.

The monarchy of Austria-Hungary once chose the Imperial Eagle to be its heraldic animal, but this did not help this bird. The preferred habitat is open country with small woods; it doesn't exist in mountains, large forests and treeless steppes.

The nest is built in trees, which are not surrounded by other trees, so these nests are visible from a long way off, and the eagles may overlook the surroundings. Tree branches are taken in order to build the nest, which is upholstered with grass and feathers.

In March or April the female lays two or three eggs. After 45 days the youngs are hatching. Often just one young will leave the nest, while the other(s) die before becoming fully-fledged.

This eagle feeds mainly on susliks (a kind of ground squirrel), and in addition on other rodents, martens, foxes and birds.