Booted Eagles

Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)

The Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata) (formerly Hieraaetus pennatus) belongs to the family Accipitridae.

Recent genetic research resulted in the reclassification of this species to the genus Aquila from Hieraaetus. As it is the type species of Hieraaetus, should any of the hawk-eagles be retained in a distinct genus a new name for that group would be necessary.

Along with the Little Eagle this bird is one of the closest living relatives of the extinct Haast’s Eagle of New Zealand.


Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata) Soaring In The Sky
Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata) Soaring In The Sky


This is a medium-sized bird of prey, but the Booted is a small eagle, comparable to the Common Buzzard in size though more eagle-like in shape.

Males grow to about 700 grams (1.5 lbs) in weight, with females close to 1 kilogram (over 2 lb).It is about 47 centimeters (18 inches) in length and has a wingspan of 120 cm (almost 4 feet).

There are two relatively distinct plumage forms. Pale birds are mainly light grey with a darker head and flight feathers. The other form has mid-brown plumage with dark grey flight feathers.


Distribution / Range

It breeds in southern Europe, North Africa and across Asia. It is migratory, wintering in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

This is a species of wooded, often hilly countryside with some open areas. It hunts small mammals, reptiles and birds.

Breeding / Nesting

This eagle lays 1-2 eggs in a tree or crag nest.

Booted Eagles Flying in the Air
Booted Eagles Flying in the Air

Calls / Vocalizations

The call is a shrill kli-kli-kli.


  • BirdLife International (2004). Hieraaetus pennatus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Splitting headaches? Recent taxonomic changes affecting the British and Western Palaearctic lists – Martin Collinson, British Birds vol 99 (June 2006), 306-323
  • Bunce, M., et al. (2005) Ancient DNA Provides New Insights into the Evolutionary History of New Zealand’s Extinct Giant Eagle. PLoS Biol 3(1): e9 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030009 HTML open-source article

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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