Steppe Eagles

The Steppe Eagle inhabits the arid zones of Northern Eurasia and is the characteristic large raptor species of the steppe and semi-desert landscapes. This species, having evolved in the conditions of the tundra, is different from other existing eagles species in not having lost its ability to nest on flat ground. That is why the Steppe Eagle population was widespread across the flat steppes and semi-deserts from Eastern Europe to the Far East, where he was the only nesting eagle, and remains so in most of the steppe regions in Russia and Kazakhstan. The present habitat of the Steppe Eagle is confined mainly to the steppe zones of plains and the mountains in the steppe zone including deserts and tundra. The ability to nest on level ground differentiates it from other eagles which also inhabit the steppe zone but need specific substrates such as large trees or rocks to nest on. The Steppe Eagle occupies a food chain with several species of ground squirrels, gerbils, large voles and pikas, in connection with which it perform a huge function in being the foci of plague.

As recently as 30 years ago the Steppe Eagle was the most populous species of Northern Eurasia. However, its number has been greatly reduced in size, and the area which it inhabits has shrunk by hundreds of kilometres in the east and the south. It had already disappeared from Ukraine as early as the start of the ’80s. In both the 20th century and the present, numbers are still rapidly being reduced.

Today, the once-common species, with a previously-estimated worldwide population of hundreds of thousands of pairs, has become a rarity. The current global population size stands at 26.0–36.7 thousand breeding pairs, of which only 2.1–3.1 thousand nest in Russia.