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Persian Eagles

Part 1


Ten species of eagles occur at least seasonally in Persia, nine of which also occur in Afghanistan.

 Pallas’s fish eagle, Haliaeetus leucoryphus, ranges throughout Asia, is vagrant in Persia, eastern Arabia, and Oman, and is probably a winter visitor in western Afghanistan. It breeds from the Caspian to central China and Mongolia.

EAGLES (Ar. and Pers. ?oq?b; also obsolete Pers. d?l < Mid. Pers. d?lman; also obsolete Pers. and Mid. Pers. ?loh), large, diurnal, raptorial birds of the family Accipitridae in several genera (45-90 cm long, wingspan 110-250 cm).



Ten species of eagles occur at least seasonally in Persia, nine of which also occur in Afghanistan. Eagles have strong, hooked bills and powerful talons adapted to their flesh-eating mode of life. They catch their prey with their feet and the claws of the rear toe and the central of the front three toes close together powerfully, killing their victims. The length of the toes and claws is more closely correlated with the size of the prey than with the size of the eagle itself. The fish-eating, white-tailed eagle has barbs on its toes. The “true” eagles of the genus Aquila feed on mammals, including small predators, and have fea-thered legs, which presumably protect the leg from struggling, sharp-toothed and clawed prey. The short toes and claws of the short-toed eagle provide a more effective grip on its reptilian prey, especially snakes. Some eagles, such as the golden and Bonelli’s, are used with greyhounds to hunt gazelles in the deserts of the South. But while these feeding adaptations and preferences distinguish several species, most supplement their diets with reptiles, amphibians, birds, small mammals, and carrion.

The flight of eagles is powerful and often soaring; a few, such as the short-toed and white-tailed eagles, may hover. Some that take their prey on the ground, swoop down on it from hunting perches on cliffs or branches. Like other raptors, eagles regurgitate pellets containing undigested feathers, hair, and bone fragments; ornitholgists use these to study the birds’ feeding habits in a particular region.

Many, including the golden and Bonelli’s eagles, nest on ledges or inaccessible cliff faces; others, including the short-toed eagle, nest in trees. The female, usually larger than the male, chooses the nesting site and does most of the building. Eagles tend to renew old nests, adding only twigs and lining; such nests may be used year after year and for many generations. Most eagles lay two to three eggs. Incubation begins with the laying of the first egg, so that the firstborn is older and larger than its siblings; often the older chick kills the younger ones, although abundance of prey and adequate provisioning by the male may enable nesting pairs to raise two or three offspring in good years.

Eagles, like other birds of prey, have been hunted for sport and trophies and because they endanger newborn livestock—particularly sheep and poultry—and because they are believed to compete with human hunters for game. In fact, many species take large numbers of rodents and hares and thus reduce populations of agricultural pests. In many areas of the world, eagle populations have declined along with other predatory and insect-eating birds because of secondary poisoning by pesticides, particularly the fat-soluble organochlorines, which become increasingly concentrated at higher levels of food chains and reach doses that interfere with the reproduction of top predators, like eagles and other raptors. As most eagles are migratory, even those which nest far from agricultural areas become vulnerable to these poisons in the course of their travels.

The following species are known to occur in Persia and Afghanistan: Pallas’s fish eagle, Haliaeetus leucoryphus (oq?b-e dary???-e p?l?s), ranges throughout Asia, is vagrant in Persia, eastern Arabia, and Oman, and is probably a winter visitor in western Afghanistan. It breeds from the Caspian to central China and Mongolia. Its habitat is inland lakes and rivers, though it occasionally winters in coastal regions (Scott et al., p. 78; Paz, p. 54; Hollom et al., p. 49; Plate L).

The white-tailed eagle, Hali?etus albicilla (oq?b-e dary???-e dom-saf?d) ranges throughout the trans-Palearctic, from Greenland through Europe into Asia. Adults reside and breed on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and winter in northern and western Persia, the Persian Gulf coast, and the S?st?n basin. The young often disperse in winter, occasionally reaching Egypt, Israel, Iraq, and southern Persia. The bird is presumably a passage migrant and winter visitor in Afghanistan. Its habitat is wetlands, rivers, lakes, and coasts. It nests in trees or on cliffs (Scott et al., p. 79; Paz, p. 54; Hollom et al., p. 49).

The short-toed eagle, Circaetus gallicus (?oq?b-e m?r?or), ranges throughout southern and eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India, and Central Asia; it resides in Persia along the Persian Gulf; it breeds as a summer visitor throughout Persia, and is a passage migrant in Afghanistan. As a summer visitor, it also breeds in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Libya, and perhaps Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Few winter in Arabia. Its habitat is arid stony foothills, semidesert, and open or lightly wooded plains. It nests in trees (Scott et al., p. 95; Paz, p. 58; Hollom et al., p. 53; Plate LI).

The lesser spotted eagle, Aquila pomarina (?oq?b-e jangal?), is a breeding summer visitor in northwestern Persia and on the Caspian coast as well as in eastern Germany, Russia, the Balkans, and Turkey. It breeds in moist wooded plains and dry mountain woods. It winters in East Africa from southern Sudan to Zimbabwe, and occasionally in the eastern Mediterranean, and nests in trees (Scott et al., p. 91; Paz, p. 65; Hollom et al., p. 58).

The spotted eagle, Aquila clanga ( ?oq?b-e t?l?b?), is a resident of the south coast of the Caspian Sea, a winter visitor throughout Persia, and a passage migrant or winter visitor in Afghanistan. It breeds from eastern Europe to Manchuria. Its western Palearctic population winters in northern Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, Iraq, Persia, Israel, and the Nile delta. Its habitat is usually near water, especially in marshes with some trees (Scott et al., p. 90; Paz, pp. 65-66; Hollom et al., p. 64; Plate LII).

By: WILLIAM L. HANAWAY, JR; Steven C. Anderson, and William L. Hanaway, Jr.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com


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