life Schreiadler: Threats

Threat status


Spotted Eagle are not threatened worldwide and in Europe ("least concern"). However, their range is about 95% in Europe, and the conservation status of the population is considered poor. Because Europe is responsible for the survival of the species, the spotted eagle has a large importance in nature conservation.


In Germany the situation is dramatic. The hazards on the migration route, the continuing loss of grassland, drainage of wetlands and the intensification of forestry contribute to a steady decline in the German population.

Logically, spotted eagles are on the Red List of Germany, and in the federal states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania LSE are classified as threatened to extinction - Red List Category 1. In Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Bremen, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg spotted eagle are already extinct. After the anthropogenic extinction of golden eagle and serpent eagles in the northern German lowlands, the threat is high that another eagle species is going to disappear.

Threats caused by land use changes

Essentially, there are three developments that reduce the suitability of the last LSE habitats in Germany.

1. Once, secluded, unfragmented habitats are increasingly being developed. In early 2011 in the LSE's area of ​​distribution, more than 600 wind turbines have been installed. The total number of LSE causualties is unknown, because only a few turbine plants have been examined. A direct link between the construction of wind turbines and the abandonment of breeding sites is not proven. However, the rate of breeding success is significantly lower with decreasing distance between breeding place and turbines and increasing number of rotors within the breeding territory(Scheller 2007). In light of the already low reproductive rates of spotted eagles, this danger has to be assessed even further.

2. The development of hunting grounds has also had a devastating effect on the german population. To ensure an adequate supply of food, spotted eagle need at least 100 ha of grassland within 1 km to their breeding forest. In the course of changing conditions, for example the abolition of set-aside payments, more and more fallow fields and especially dry and wet grassland is transformed into intensively used farmland. But in corn, canola and dense grain stocks spotted eagles can neither exercise their hunting behavior, nor can they find the amount of food they need. A glimmer of hope is the trend towards conversion to organic farming. However, the portion of organically farmed land is not enough in most breeding territories.

3. Once spotted eagle pairs have selected a forest as a nesting site, they remain faithful to it for many years. This tradition is even passed on to the offspring. In Brandenburg, over 100 years old nesting sites are known. However, for about 10 years, timber prices have risen significantly, which increases the rate of felling. These changes will have a detrimental affect on the habitat suitability for spotted eagles, but also other large bird species such as the black stork. During the breeding season the Lesser Spotted Eagle is a forest dweller, secretive and sensitive to disturbance. Logging or hunting events during the breeding season often lead to the abortion of the only breeding attempt.

Threats during migration

Especially for the inexperienced juvenile birds, the the autumn and winter travels across 20 countries are a very dangerous trial. Only 2 out of 5 juvenile eagles survive the first year of life. They are often direct victims of persecution. In most cases, they are shot down, but some are also poisoned. Huge on-coast wind power plants, as prospected in Egypt, are also an increasing risk.

Trend Schreiadler
Population trend of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Germany (Source: State Ornithological Station Brandenburg)
Winter cereals
Plowing of grassland
orphaned area
intensive forest management
Drainage in the forest
Jungadler auf dem Zug
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