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Spanish Imperial Eagle recovering space beyond borders

Tracking Spanish Imperial Eagles showed the scale of their movements in Morocco and Africa in general.

In 2015, six young satellite-tracked Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aquila adalberti) visited North Africa from Andalusia, southern Spain. A recent article by researchers from the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC) and the Government of Andalusia explored the subject of these eagles’ movements and its implications. The article which was just published in Quercus magazine entitled “Águila imperial ibérica: recuperando espacio más allá de las fronteras”. The following translated from the original:

“It’s been thirteen years since the first chicks of Spanish Imperial Eagle were released within the program of reintroduction of the species in the province of Cádiz. Today, after the release of 83 juveniles since 2002, starting year of the project, the success of reintroductions is confirmed, with four territorial pairs formed and a total of five chicks have fledged in 2015.

The Spanish Imperial Eagle has exceeded hundred breeding pairs in Andalusia, in line with the recovery of its population in the Iberian Peninsula, representing a success of the measures taken to avoid long-term extinction of this bird of prey. The next step consist is the study, management and conservation of new dispersal areas beyond the known occupied territories.

The new Cádiz population has a visible effect as a connector: there are already at least six individuals released in the reintroduction program that have joined the breeding nucleus in other areas, four in Doñana, one in south-eastern Portugal and one in southern Castilla-La Mancha. In addition, the pairs that form the Cádiz population consist of birds released in the reintroduction program as well as other non-ringed birds likely originated from the nearby Sierra Morena”.

In addition to Morocco, three eagles have also visited western Algeria (two for a distance relatively long, see their map below, and one only for a short distance). One of the eagles has reached as far south as Mauritania.


Morandini, V., Florencio, C., Garrido, J. R., Muñoz, F., de Diego, S., González, M., Torralvo, C. & Ferrer, M. 2016. Aguila imperial ibérica: recuperando espacio más allá de las fronteras. Quercus (361): 24–29.

The African routes of the Spanish Imperial Eagles tracked by satellite from Andalusia, Spain. Here is shown only the birds that traveled well inside western Algeria before going back to Morocco.
Juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti), Tarifa, Spain, 1st October 2015. This bird joined a group of Griffon Vultures heading south across the Strait of Gibraltar to Africa (Javier Elorriaga / Birding the Strait).

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