29 January 2023

Eastern Imperial Eagles – Al Jouf

Whilst birding in the Al Jouf area in late December we came across a number of both Juvenile & adult Eastern Imperial Eagles. We counted a maximum of ten on a single day, mainly seen in the early morning when they flew from their roosting areas. We are used to seeing them perched on pivot irrigation frames or in the pivot fields in the Eastern Province, but we only really saw them in flight in Al Jouf. Most of the large eagles in the Al Jouf area when we visited were Eastern Imperial Eagles with only a single Steppe Eagle seen. At one point there was an interaction between a male Pallid Harrier carrying prey and a juvenile Eastern Imperial Eagle, of which I managed to get a couple of phots of both birds together. The Eastern Imperial Eagle is an uncommon winter visitor to Saudi Arabia with most records coming from the north of the country where they are generally seen inland rather than near the coast. The species breeds from Eastern Europe across Asia to China and winters in the Middle East, east Africa south to Tanzania, the Arabian Peninsula, India, and from Thailand to Korea. Currently Eastern Imperial Eagle is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as it has a small global population and is likely to be undergoing continuing declines, primarily as a result of habitat loss and degradation, adult mortality through persecution and collisions with power lines and prey depletion. The status in Saudi Arabia appears to be more or less stable, however.