Seen soaring over the central lowlands of Azerbaijan, the imperial eagle is a magnificent bird of prey that is forced to choose some odd, and often dangerous, sites for its nest
Found: The eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) inhabits a widespread area from eastern Europe to the Far East. But it is a native breeding bird only in Azerbaijan, central Turkey, areas of northern Iran, and Turkmenistan, and still counts as a rare species.
Under threat because: Like many raptors, the imperial eagle is under multiple threats, from wind farms, overhead power lines, loss of habitat and, sadly, poisoning. The eagle’s natural site for its nest is at the top of a tall sturdy tree, so if there is any deforestation, they have to resort to a shorter, flimsier tree, which cannot protect the nest as securely. In the absence of a suitable tree, the eagles have even been known to build nests in electricity pylons, with the added danger of electrocution.
Outlook: While there are estimated to be 3,500-15,000 imperial eagles worldwide, which is better than previous surveys have suggested, the species is still classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Illustration by Margaux Carpenter
This story appeared in the summer 2015 issue of Baku magazine.