Aquila pomarina (Lesser spotted eagle) 

Gevlekte arend [Afrikaans]; Ngongo (also applied to Tawny eagle) [Kwangali]; Schreeuwarend [Dutch]; Aigle pomarin [French]; Schreiadler [German]; Įguia-pomarina [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Falconiformes > Family: Accipitridae > Genus: Aquila

Aquila pomarina (Lesser spotted eagle) Aquila pomarina (Lesser spotted eagle)

Lesser spotted eagle. [photo Neil Gray ©]

Lesser-spotted eagle, Mapungubwe, South Africa. [photo Johann du Preez ©]

Distribution and habitat

It breeds in eastern Europe, heading south in the non-breeding season to Africa, from Egypt to South Africa. In southern Africa, it is locally common in patches of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, northern Botswana, north-eastern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip) and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers savanna and open woodland, generally avoiding mountainous and densely wooded areas.

Distribution of Lesser spotted eagle in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Palearctic breeding migrant, arriving in southern Africa in October; most birds depart in March.


It mainly eats termite alates in southern Africa, foraging on the ground or hawking prey from a perch. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Termite alates
    • Hodotermes mossambicus (Northern harvester termite)
  • Vertebrates


Not threatened, although its population appears to be decreasing sharply. This trend is possibly caused by radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, hunting and habitat loss for agriculture.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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