, Volume 145, Issue 1, pp 1-7

Migration, wintering and breeding of a lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) from Slovakia tracked by satellite

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In northern Slovakia an adult male Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) occupied the same nest site for 11 years running (1992–2002), where it was ringed and fitted with two satellite transmitters. In six of these years it successfully reared a young. In 1994 and 2000–2002 its behaviour during migration could be followed in detail by means of satellite telemetry. The eagle took the known route for this species to South Africa. In 2001, it spent 43% of the year at its breeding site, 33% in its winter quarters, the remaining 24% being spent on migration. In three cases the autumn migration took 40, 48 and 61 days respectively. In two cases the spring migration took 49 days. All five recorded autumn and spring migrations averaged a daily flight distance of 178 km. In spring the daily flight distance was in general slightly greater than in autumn. The longest was recorded from 30 March to 2 April 2001, between Uganda and the Red Sea, during which the bird covered a total of 1,650 km, averaging 412 km per day. In 2001, the spring migration from the wintering grounds was 2 weeks later than in 2002. The wintering grounds, where in 2 years the bird spent around 3.5 months, covering at least 1,666 and 2,269 km, respectively, comprised a large part of Zimbabwe together with the Kruger National Park in South Africa and neighbouring parts of Mozambique. The annual journeys flown, including movements around the wintering grounds, amounted in 2000-2001 to at least 20,396 km and in 2001-2002 to 19,041 km. Except during its crossing of the Sahara, the eagle must have taken food on nearly all its days of migration.

Communicated by F. Bairlein