Third International Scientific and Practical Conference “Eagles of the Palearctic: Study and Conservation”

Raptors Conservation. Suppl. 2. Proceedings of Conferences

Steppe Eagle breeding population surveys in Turkey between 2015 and 2022

Horváth M. (BirdLife Hungary, Budapest, Hungary)
Juhász T. (Hortobagy National Park Directorate, Debrecen, Hungary)
Béres I. (BirdLife Hungary, Budapest, Hungary)
Özcan C. (Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey)
Tatar B. (Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, Ankara, Turkey)
Özkoç Ö.Ü. (Turkish Nature Research Society, Turkey)
İsfendiyaroğlu S. (İstanbul Bird Observatory, Turkey)
Schmidt M. (BirdLife Austria, Wien, Austria)
Karyakin I. (Russian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, Novosibirsk, Russia)

Márton Horváth
Tibor Juhász
István Béres
Cansu Özcan
Burak Tatar
Ömral Ünsal Özkoç
Süreyya İsfendiyaroğlu
Matthias Schmidt
Igor Karyakin
Recommended citation: Horváth M., Juhász T., Béres I., Özcan C., Tatar B., Özkoç Ö.Ü., İsfendiyaroğlu S., Schmidt M., Karyakin I. Steppe Eagle breeding population surveys in Turkey between 2015 and 2022. – Raptors Conservation. 2023. S2: 217–219. DOI: 10.19074/1814-8654-2023-2-217-219 URL:

The status of the Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) was unclear in Turkey, which forms the south-western border of the species’ breeding distribution. The status of the species in Turkey has never been clear, as historically only two nesting sites were found and documented in the wider area of Tuz Gölü, which were proved to be active only in some years between 1969 and 1980. One nest site in Tuz Gölü was found in some years between 1969 and 1975, while another nest was found in Bolluk Gölü in 1975, and was active also in 1980. There were no published breeding records since 1980 until 2003, when a Steppe Eagle brood was found accidentally in central Anatolia by Hungarian birdwatchers. There were no other published breeding records of Steppe Eagles in Turkey in the twentieth century, although adult birds have been observed in a few occasions in Central and Eastern Anatolia during the breeding season between 1998 and 2015. A short species-specific survey was undertaken by Hungarian and Russian researchers in 2015, which revealed eight potential breeding territories in Kırşehir and Konya provinces, three of them with incubating birds, one with a pair and an active nest, and four further potential territories where mature individuals were observed. Based on these results further surveys have been organized in cooperation of Hungarian and Turkish researchers between 2017 and 2022. All together 38 nests were found of which active breeding attempts were proved in 23 cases. During the surveys 23 potential territories have been identified: 10 territories with detected breeding attempts (incubation or chick rearing), 5 territories with detected occupancy (territorial pairs or active nests), 6 potential territories (single adult birds observed in suitable habitats) and 2 empty ancient territories (no activity was observed). The controlled clutches contained 2.00 eggs (n=6), 1.65 chicks (n=18) and 1.37 fledglings (n=16) in average. Hybridization of Steppe Eagles with Eastern Imperial Eagles (Aquila heliaca) was proved genetically in one case, where a hybrid male bird paired with an imperial eagle female and successfully raised hybrid chicks in several years. The dispersal and migration of six young steppe eagles and two hybrid juveniles have been tracked with the help of GPS transmitters. The tracked steppe and hybrid eagles moved to the Sahel region for wintering. The surveys also revealed significant potential threats to eagle populations within Turkey, including electrocution, shooting, massive habitat alteration and infrastructural developments. Therefore, intensive further studies, including active species and habitat conservation measures are inevitable for the maintenance of the Anatolian Steppe Eagle population, which is ost probably in critically endangered status.