103 (Asian) Imperial Eagle
(Aquila heliaca)


70-83cm. Very large. Most similar to Golden Eagle, but tail shorter, about 3/4 or 4/5 of width of wing, and wings on average more evenly broad. Head-on silhouette often differs, too, wings held flattish, but can also be slightly raised. Often soars with tail folded. Tail is more square and has sharper corners than on Steppe Eagle. Adult: Very dark, brown-black, with pale golden nape-shawl, paler than on Golden Eagle. Generally no pale panel on wing-coverts above, but at times an indistinct one. Flight-feathers grey, diffusely barred, underwing-coverts contrastingly black. Inner tail paler and more densely barred than on Golden, outer with broad black band at tip. White patches on shoulders (sometimes small and difficult to see).


In Hungary the Imperial Eagle is a regular breeder in small numbers in forests at higher elevations and also on the Great Plain. The population has slightly increase in recent years, as birds have reoccupied foothills and lowland areas. Adult birds are resident, whilst juveniles and immature birds migrate. Non-breeding and immature birds often reside on the Great Plain.

103 (Asian) Imperial Eagle pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008