First ever Eastern Imperial Eagle seen in Malta

Sporting a satellite tracking device, the massive bird is thought to originate from a conservation project in Austria.

(Photo: Stephen Cilia)
 A rare Eastern Imperial Eagle has roosted in Malta last night in what constitutes the first ever record of the presence of this species on the Maltese Islands.

BirdLife Malta today announced the first ever record of a rare Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) for the Maltese Islands, after it was alerted by birdwatcher members of the organization who spotted the massive eagle over Buskett yesterday early afternoon.

Sporting a satellite tracking device, the massive bird is thought to originate from a conservation project in Austria.

An unusual species for the Central Mediterranean, Eastern Imperial Eagles breed in Eastern Europe and Asia and normally migrate over Balkan countries and the Middle East to winter in East Africa, Arabia and India. Although they have a massive wing span of up to two metres, they normally avoid long stretches of open water and do not cross over Mediterranean Islands, hence their rare presence in the region.

The experienced birdwatchers, who are accustomed to seeing this bird in Eastern Europe but never in Malta, followed the bird in various locations. BirdLife Malta soon got the further news that the bird in question was also fitted with a satellite-tracking device.

After contacting several Birdlife Partners in Europe such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Austria, the bird is now thought to originate from a conservation programme in BirdLife Austria.

BirdLife Malta has yesterday alerted the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit of the Malta Police Force to the presence of such a rarity.

As further news on the eagle is awaited from Malta and abroad, the organization is urging members of the public to keep a look out for it and alert police of any illegal hunting. Reports to police can be made on 119 while the organization can be reached on 2134 7646.

1 comment to First ever Eastern Imperial Eagle seen in Malta

  • Julie Wright

    Stunning bird, I was lucky enough to see a pair in Czech in June of this year on a birding holiday with Terry Pickford. Can’t wait to see them again next year.