The lesser spotted eagle (Clanga pomarina) is a large Eastern European bird of prey. Like all typical eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. The typical eagles are often united with the buteos, sea eagles, and other more heavy-set Accipitridae, but more recently it appears as if they are less distinct from the more slender accipitrine hawks than believed.


This is a medium-sized eagle, about 60 cm (24 in) in length and with a wingspan of 150 cm (59 in). Its head and wing coverts are pale brown and contrast with the generally dark plumage. The head and bill are small for an eagle. Usually, a white patch occurs on the upper wings, and even adults retain a clearly marked white “V” on the rump; the wing markings are absent and the white “V” is not well-defined in the greater spotted eagle.

The juvenile has less contrast in the wings, but the remiges bear prominent white spots. It differs from greater spotted eagle juveniles by a lack of wing covert spotting and the presence of a cream-colored neck patch.

The call is a dog-like yip.

Distribution and Habitat

Palearctic species. The lesser spotted eagle breeds in Central and Eastern Europe and southeastward to Turkey and Armenia; and winters in Africa. This is a very wary species of open or lightly wooded country, in which it hunts small mammals and similar terrestrial prey. Inhabits wetlands with concentrations of waterfowl and tall trees around, floodplains and other deciduous forests, shores of reservoirs, open southeastern slopes with upward air currents along the migration route.

In Bulgaria currently nearly 50% of its population (460-520 breeding pairs) is concentrated in the Eastern Rhodopes, Sakar, Derventa hills and Strandzha. Scattered localities are also found in Dobrudzha, the Danube plain, the Thracian lowlands, the Western Rhodopes, Sredna Gora, Vitosha, Plana and others.

During the autumn migration it forms large concentrations in the region of the Burgas Bay.

The birds of the European population are migratory. During migrations it forms dilute flocks in mixed groups with buzzards, pitchers and other species of eagles. Winters in Africa. Spring migration is in March-April, and autumn – in August-October.


A very well-adapted predator, it hunts it hunts small mammals and similar terrestrial prey.


A monogamous bird. It builds its nest on tall trees. It nests mainly on deciduous trees, at a height of 6–25 m. This eagle lays one to three white, buff-spotted eggs in a tree nest. As usual for eagles, only in breeding seasons with very abundant prey does more than one young fledge, but the female starts incubating when the first egg has been laid, thus the first young to hatch usually outgrows its clutch mate(s) and will kill and even eat them sooner or later.

Conservation Status

It is classified as Least Concern (IUCN 3.1) to extinction by the IUCN.In the Red Book of Bulgaria it is included in the category of vulnerable VU B (1a) + C. On the territory of Bulgaria is a legally protected species.


Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina, Clanga pomarina)