Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)


French: Aigle impérial German: Kaiseradler Spanish: Águila imperial oriental
Other common names: Imperial Eagle

Aquila heliaca


, 1809,

upper Egypt


Formerly considered conspecific with A. adalberti. E populations have occasionally been separated as race ricketti, but generally considered undiagnosable. Monotypic.


C & SE Europe (from Austria, E Czech Republic, Slovakia and N Hungary) and Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan E to NW China (W Xinjiang), C Transbaikalia, probably N Mongolia and perhaps NE China (Inner Mongolia), in breeding season reaching N to c. 55° N in European Russia. Winters S to NE & E Africa (S to Kenya, exceptionally N Tanzania; once to Cameroon), Arabia, Iran, E Afghanistan and N Indian Subcontinent (from E Pakistan to Bangladesh, S to Gujarat, more exceptionally Maharashtra and even Tamil Nadu), E & SE China, N Myanmar (once), Thailand, N Indochina and recently S to Singapore; occasional in winter N to Primorye (SE Russia), Korea and Japan (mainly Honshu, but also Shikoku, Kyushu and Ishigaki-jima), as well as Taiwan.

Descriptive notes

72–84 cm; male 2450–2720 g, female 3160–4530 g; wingspan c. 180–215 cm. Generally dark brown; crown, nape, sides of head and neck have pale tawny-buff... read more


Mostly vocalizes during breeding season, the main call, principally given during aerial displays,... read more


Originally bred on old isolated trees in plains of C & SE Europe, but has subsequently... read more

Food and feeding

Small to medium-sized mammals; in most areas main prey species are susliks (Citellus, Spermophilus) and hamster (... read more


In Hungary, adults appear in breeding areas in late Feb or early Mar, depending on weather conditions; laying completed by late Mar or... read more


Mostly migratory. Birds migrate to S Turkey, Iran, Israel, Iraq, Egypt and Arabia, and to Pakistan... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. CITES I. Legally protected in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine. Overall, population most... read more

Recommended citation

Meyburg, B.U. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).