Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti)


French: Aigle ibérique German: Spanischer Kaiseradler Spanish: Águila imperial ibérica
Other common names: Spanish Eagle

Aquila adalberti

C. L. Brehm

, 1861,



Formerly considered conspecific with A. heliaca; substantial differences in morphology and ecology, as well as molecular data, however, support treatment as distinct species#R#R#R, differing by its pure white vs brown leading edge of wing, above and below, with larger white shoulder patch (3); flight-feathers darker and less barred, the inner tail paler grey and appearing unbarred (closely barred in heliaca) (2); markedly different juvenile plumage, being rufous-brown and almost plain vs sand-coloured with obvious streaking (and pale markings in wing also differently shaped) (3); and sedentary vs mostly migratory behaviour (1). Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

C, W & S Spain; formerly more widespread over Iberia, occurring also in Morocco (where now perhaps only a winter visitor) and probably Algeria; has recently recolonized Portugal.

Descriptive notes

c. 74–85 cm; 2500–3500 g; wingspan c. 177–220 cm. Female larger, by up to 10% in size and 40% in mass. Similar to A. heliaca, but marginally... read more


A deep harsh barking "owk owk", rapidly repeated up to 8–10 times, deeper than ... read more


Persists in more forested areas of Spain, with low levels of human land use, and higher densities... read more

Food and feeding

Total of 98 prey species recorded, of which most important is rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), comprising 58% before myxomatosis.... read more


Laying from mid Feb to end Mar (in Morocco clutches reported Jan–May). Nests only on trees (usually in the crown), except two pairs... read more


Adults sedentary. Young birds, when they become independent, leave natal areas, dispersing in all... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. CITES I. One of rarest of all birds of prey. Its population has experienced a gradual recovery from 38 pairs in 1974 to 198 pairs in 2004 and 365 pairs in 2012.... read more

Recommended citation

Meyburg, B.U., Kirwan, G.M. & de Juana, E. (2020). Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti). 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 17 February 2020).