Aquila clanga (Pallas 1811) *Spotted Eagle
Hebrew name: עיט צפרדעים, eit tzfarde’im
Global Threat: VU (C1) – Vulnerable
Regional Threat: RE (as breeder) – Regionally Extinct
Distribution area: Rare winter visitor and passage migrant in the Mediterranean region.
Historic distribution: Until the 1960s about 15 pairs bred in northern Israel, particularly on the fringes of the Hula Valley but also in the Galilee, Gilboa and Carmel. In 1972 an unsuccessful breeding attempt was recorded at Nahal Keziv. In summers during the 1980s a few spotted eagles were seen in the Hula Valley and Zevulun Valley, but no nesting attempts were recorded (Paz 1986; Shirihai 1996). Was a common winter visitor in the Mediterranean region in Israel until the 1960s, but its population decreased drastically as a result of poisoning and hunting (Mendelssohn 1972).
Typical Habitat: Cultivated or flooded fields, wetlands and fishponds with tall trees in the Mediterranean region. Nests on trees.
Major Extinction Factors:
1. Poisoning – affected by secondary poisoning from rodenticides. Most of the events occurred during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s
2. Hunting – was a significant factor until the 1950s. Spotted eagles are still hunted in neighboring countries.
3. Habitat modification – was affected by the loss of wetlands.
Period During Which Species Became Extinct: 1960s.
Population Size: 120-200 spotted eagles winter in Israel, which is circa 5% of the global population.
Fluctuations in Population Size: There has been a gradual decrease in the number of wintering birds due to the reduction of agricultural lands and open spaces, particularly in central Israel.
Isolation Between Subpopulations: The nearest population breeds in Turkey (Cramp & Simmons 1985).
Species Rehabilitation Possibility: The probability of spotted eagles breeding in Israel again is low, and would require special efforts.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Improving regulation of pesticide use.
2. Protecting high-power installations against bird electrocution.
* Considering the former lack of knowledge on field separation of spotted eagle (A. clanga) from lesser spotted eagle (A. pomarina), and their current distribution areas, there is a possibilty that the species that bred in Israel was actually the lesser spotted eagle.