What types of eagles can you find in Austria?
Whenever they appear, I make sure to stop and watch these incredible birds of prey. I’m always amazed at their beauty, large size, and astonishing ability to soar at extreme heights! And I’m not alone, as eagles have a special place in many people’s hearts and minds.
Below are the eagles that live in Austria!
Make sure to pay attention to the range maps to see which eagles live near you! In addition, I’ve included a few photographs to help you identify any birds you are lucky enough to observe for each species.
#1. Golden Eagle
- Aquila chrysaetos
- Adults have a length of 66 to 100 centimeters and a wingspan of 1.8 to 2.3 meters.
- The coloring is dark brown on the body, with a golden-brown head and yellow feet.
- The head seems small for the body and includes a hooked beak.
Golden Eagles are incredibly fast and agile, which makes them expert hunters. Where other eagles primarily eat fish or reptiles, these eagles almost always eat mammals. Their favorite prey includes rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, and marmots. But these raptors have been known to hunt and kill animals as large as small deer, badgers, or a bear cub. Talk about bravery (or stupidity?)! 🙂
Golden Eagles typically mate for life. To impress a female, male birds pick up a stick or a rock and fly up high, only to drop it. Then the eagle dives to catch the object again before it hits the ground! Once paired up, it’s common for them to hunt cooperatively, where one individual ambushes the prey and drives it towards the second bird to make the kill.
Golden Eagles are common to see in Austria.
These birds prefer vast open areas that include cliffs, mountains, or hills. However, you can also spot these birds in grasslands, farmlands, shrublands, arctic tundra, and coniferous woodlands.
These eagles are not extremely noisy, and their calls sound like weak, high whistles. For such a powerful raptor, you’d think Golden Eagles would have a much more intimidating sound!
#2. Lesser Spotted Eagle
- Clanga pomarina
- Adults are typically up to 60 centimeters long with a wingspan of 150 centimeters.
- Their small, light brown head contrasts with their dark brown wings and body.
- Typically they have a white patch on the wings and a V-shaped marking near the base of the tail.
Lesser Spotted Eagles live in open country and lightly wooded grasslands. They are diurnal, meaning they sleep at night and hunt during the day. They primarily live in trees and hunt from perches, gliding down to capture small mammals for meals.
It’s rare for Lesser Spotted Eagles to hunt while flying, but they’ll walk on the forest floor to forage for food. They have keen eyesight and often hunt with other Lesser Spotted Eagles.
This species is one of the most territorial eagles in Austria and will regularly fight other birds that encroach on its home range. Male Lesser Spotted Eagles are more aggressive than females and usually display aggression toward other males, while females protect nesting and roosting sites. Here, you can see a female doing just that on a nest camera.
Lesser Spotted Eagles are the only species in Austria with the unusual habit of nest visitation.
The reason isn’t known, but females will often visit the nests of other females and stay for short periods before returning to their own territory. Researchers have discovered that females make these visits even if they aren’t closely related, almost as if they’re visiting for a neighborly chat!
#3. Imperial Eagle
- Aquila heliaca
- Adults typically range from 68 to 90 centimeters long with a wingspan of 1.76 to 2.2 meters.
- Their coloring is dark brown to black, with a light tan head and neck and bright white spots on the back.
- When in flight, the underside appears grayish with small white markings.
Imperial Eagles live primarily in taiga forests but range into grasslands and other open areas as well. You may even find one in an agricultural field, foraging for a meal. Look for them soaring over open areas searching for prey or perched in trees, taking a rest.
This species almost always hunts from above and takes its prey on the ground, soaring down to intercept it from its perch or the sky. Typically, the Imperial Eagle prefers small and medium-sized mammals, and also eats birds, frogs, and fish. Sometimes larger animals like foxes or domestic cats can fall victim to Imperial Eagles, but this is rare.
Like many other eagles in Austria, Imperial Eagles mate for life and are often found as mating pairs in the wild. These mating pairs face the challenges of low breeding success and low survival rates to adulthood, which are rare problems for large raptors. Unfortunately, mating pairs of Imperial Eagles only have about a 50% success rate of raising their young to fledglings, and only 84% of fledglings reach adulthood.
These factors combined with nesting habitat loss, unintentional poisoning from wolf baits, and intentional killings have caused a widespread population decline of Imperial Eagles. Conservation efforts have been in place for the last 40 years across Austria, which has helped this species regain some of its population. Habitat protection programs, the installation of artificial nesting platforms, and regulations on the use of traps and baits have all contributed to an increase in Imperial Eagles in Austria.
Do you need additional help identifying eagles in Austria?
Here are a few books and resources you can purchase that will assist! (Links below take you to Amazon)
Which eagles have you seen before in Austria?
Leave a comment below!