7 Nov 2019

Migrating Steppe Eagles – Between Tanoumah & Abha

Whilst driving between Abha and Tanoumah in mid-October 2019 we saw 10 Steppe Eagles with a further 16 on the return journey. Birds seen included immatures, sub-adults and adults and will probably include birds that will stay the winter in the region along with migrants. These sightings were a year later than the ones we saw in 2018 and fit in well with the idea that Steppe Eagle is a long-distance trans-equatorial migrant and unlike many other eagles, the species migrates in large, loose flocks. Individuals leave their breeding grounds for wintering grounds between August and October, returning to breeding areas between January and May. October appears to be the peak month for migrating Steppe Eagles in Saudi Arabia. Like other soaring birds, Steppe Eagles minimize the length of sea crossing and appear to have a loop migration around the Red Sea, arriving via Bab-el-Mandeb Strait (between Yemen and Djibouti) and departing via the Suez, Egypt–Eilat, Israel (the northern end of the Red Sea). This is probably because the prevailing easterly winds between October and April make return migration via Bab-el-Mandeb more difficult. The Steppe Eagle has undergone extremely rapid population declines within all its range. The speed and severity of these declines justified the species being moved to ‘Endangered’ in the 2015 IUCN Red List assessment. Suspected reasons for decline include, habitat loss/ degradation, electrocution on or collision with energy infrastructure, poisoning through herbicides, pesticides and veterinary drugs in food sources, persecution, mortality of juveniles in fires, taking of chicks and disturbance.
Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

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