The Dutch Imperial Eagle

By Yoav Perlman

An Imperial Eagle was found in Holland on September 27th. It was on show for a short while and then went missing, to the disappointment of quite many twitchers. On October 3rd it was relocated and showed much better. From the start there was debate whether it is a Spanish or an Eastern. At this age, fourth-plumage, both species are not easy to separate. Björn Malmhagen (remember him from Stejneger’s Stonechats?) posted in a Facebook discussion this beautiful annotated photo-composite demonstrating why it is an Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) rather than Spanish (A. adalberti). I thought  it is worth publishing here.

Dutch Imperial Eagle

Björn based his knowledge on proper research he did with Hans Larsson. They studied field photos, and also spent time at NHM Tring studying skins there. They published a great article in the Swedish magazine Vår Fågelvärld in 2012. Here is a taster:

Spanish (left two) and Eastern (right two) Imperial Eagles. Photo by Björn Melmhagen at NHM Tring

Spanish (left) and Eastern (right) Imperial Eagles. Photo by Björn Malmhagen at NHM Tring

Many thanks to Björn and Hans for sharing this exciting material. Björn asked me to thank Mark Adams of NHM Tring for allowing access to the materials for their study.

3 thoughts on “The Dutch Imperial Eagle

  1. Hans Pohlmann

    Yesterday we found out the bird was actually ringed. On two pictures we were able to read a partial code, so I sent the pictures (by Michel Veldt) to some contacts in eastern Europe. Today I got the reply from Hungary that is was definitely a wildborn bird that was ringed in Hungary. They are currently trying to figure out which individual it is.

    Furthermore, based on detailed analysis (by Nils van Duivendijk and Diederik Kok) of the plumage, it seems that it’s the same bird as was seen in Italy earlier this year. That one was identified as a Spanish Imperial Eagle. Intriguing developments…..Stay tuned!


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