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Migration of Steppe Eagle 8751

Kuwait to Kazakhstan - Spring 2022

Steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis).

Although our main focus has been on Greater spotted eagle (See here, here, and here, for example), we have tagged other species, including globally endangered Steppe eagles (See here).  8751 was a second-year Steppe eagle (hatched in 2021) when it was caught on 29 March 2022 at Al Jahra Pools.  Upon release it wandered across areas of Kuwait, northern Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq, and western Iran.  It stopped over in a location in southern Iraq (south of Nasiriyah, Iraq, 30.327N, 46.322E) during 9 – 21 April.  It is unclear why it made that stop because visual examination of satellite images do not show any remarkable features.  Perhaps there was some food resource like a large, dead animal like a camel or donkey.

Movements of a second-year Steppe eagle (8751) during 29 March – 23 April 2022 (before spring migration).

During winter Steppe eagles are often scavengers, in contrast to their active hunting of live prey during summer.  In Arabia the wintertime scavenging by Steppe eagles has resulted in huge congregations at some landfills and dump sites.  At one site in Saudi Arabia over 5000 Steppe eagles were observed, at another in Oman, over 2000!

Steppe eagles feeding at a dumpsite in Oman.

On 21 April, 8751 left its stopover area, and started on spring migration. 8751 made rather steady progress across Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.  The eagle was last heard on 5 May 2022 at a location (44.52N, 65.648E) south of the Kazakh city of Kyzylorda. Kyzylorda is located on the Syr Darya River, in an area where rice is produced.  It is not known why the transmissions ceased, but we suspect that the bird has either died or the transmitter has failed.  However, the eagle may be alive and well, but located in an area with no GSM network.  In that case we might hear from 8751 when it moves out of that area, and that may not be until autumn migration starts.

Spring migration of a second-year Steppe eagle (8751) during 29 March – 5 May 2022.

Last locations from a second-year Steppe eagle (8751), in south-central Kazakhstan.

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