This web page uses its own cookies and the third-party cookies to collect the information which help us make the service as good as possible. By no means is our intention to use it for gathering personal data.

Cookies policy


Birding Málaga


Common name Spanish imperial eagle
Scientific name Aquila adalberti
Type Forest birds
Status Dispersive

Large bird of prey (approx 80 cm or 31.5 in) with an also large wingspan (approx 220 cm or 7 ft). Very dark brown upperparts and underparts. Whitish shoulders; the nape and sides of the head have more pale or golden tones. Long, rectangular wings. Long narrow, pale brown tail. In flight the white shoulders on the wings and the almost always closed tail stand out. Juveniles have a paler brown or rufous plumage, which turns "straw" yellow with time. The successive molts give way to a mosaic or "checkerboard" plumage in which the dark brown tones alternate with straw-like ones, until after five years they reach adult plumage.


Woodland environment and scrubland

Where it lives

Endemic species of the Iberian Peninsula and closely related to the Mediterranean woodland. This eagle uses zones with very varied vegetation, although it prefers flat areas with abundant cover of scrub and scattered trees.

How it lives

Rambling or dispersive species in Malaga. The Spanish Imperial Eagle is resident in other areas of Andalusia although juveniles make remarkable dispersive trips that take them to reach the province occasionally. It breeds between February and March and makes one annual laying of 1 to 4 eggs. Nest of great size and in trees. This raptor feeds mainly on rabbits, although it also captures reptiles and birds.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

It is a rare species in the province, without a fixed presence. Juveniles are observed in the Serranía de Ronda from time to time, in different garbage dumps and vulture feeders and in the best preserved forest zones (Great Path stages 23 to 28). In autumn there are also specimens in passage in the Sierra de Alpujata (Mijas, Great Path stage 32).

Curious facts

Imperial eagles are philopatric, which means that young couples tend to settle on the periphery of their parents' territories. Adults monopolize the areas with the best densities of rabbits and young individuals must settle for areas where there are fewer rabbits. This territorial pattern makes it difficult to recover this much threatened species, as new territories are usually scarce in the main prey of the species, the rabbit.

Similar birds
Routes where it can be observed
Wintering Summer Resident Migration