Spanish bird species, booted eagle

The booted eagle one of the many Spanish bird speciesBooted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) one of many Spanish bird species around Refugio Marnes

Spanish bird species; The booted eagle – size 17,5 -19,5 inches, wingspan 43 – 52 inches- is about as large as a common buzzard and is the smallest eagle found in Europe. An interesting fact about this bird of prey is that it occurs in two colour forms, a light and a dark morph. The light morph is the most numerous and in this colour the eagle is best recognized. The front part of the wings and the fuselage are typically coloured in white, with a wide dark part on the back side of the wing. The tail has  grey colour and the head is darker than the fuselage, a grayish / brownish colour. In the dark morph the eagle can easily be confused with a black kite, a common buzzard or a marsh harrier but is distinguishable by the rectangular shaped tail. Booted eagles are found in the southern part of Europe in which France represents the northern limit of the normal range.

Spanish bird Species; The number of breeding pairs is estimated in Europe between 4500 – 9000 in which Spain is one of the most important countries with at least around 3,000 breeding pairs. Spain is an important refuge for this species and these birds of prey are found in almost all of its regions, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla forming the exception to the rule. In these areas the species can only be observed during the migration period. Booted eagles are migratory birds and the majority of the population resides in Africa in the winter months, south of the Sahara. However, research revealed quite recently that a significant amount of birds spend the winter in the coastal areas around the Mediterranean Sea. Booted eagles can therefore be observed all year round in the proximity of Refugio Marnes.

Spanish bird species; Traditionally, the species is considered a bird that is tied to forests but booted eagles are actually found in a variety of landscapes. This bird of prey hunts mainly medium-sized birds such as blackbirds, hoopoes, pigeons, partridges, magpies and  thrushes, depending on what occurs in its habitat. In addition, the species preys on rabbits as well and frequently large reptiles like lizards are hunted. Booted eagles almost always nest in the fork of a tree, here they build a new nest or they repare one that has been previously used. An exception is the Balearic Islands, where they make nests in cavities in rocky outcrops.

You can read more about Spanish bird species on the Costa Blanca on our other pages.