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CURRENT STATUS OF BOOTED EAGLE HIERAAETUS PENNATUS IN THAILAND

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Booted Eagle Hieraaetuspennatus, a medium-sized eagle, is considered to be a rare passage migrant, winter visitor or even a vagrant in Thailand, according to widely-used field guides. Nation-wide raptor censuses in winter, organized by Thai Raptor Group (TRG) and volunteered by avocational birders, revealed that the species was more common than previously thought, particularly in suitable habitats. Its winter range covers four regions of Thailand, including North-west, North-east, the central plains and southern provinces. Compiled sighting records of the species in TRG database showed that its occurrence was frequent in suitable habitats, which is mainly dry ricefield, and more than five sightings per year were counted. Such records were mostly of a single bird with a particular site in Phetchaburi, at where 2 individuals were found at a sighting time, probably and partly due to abundance of prey species such as Ricefield Rat Rattusargentiventerand Roof Rat Rattusrattus. Such a site is also one of the most important wintering and roosting site for all three Aquila eagles, namely Aquilaclanga, A. heliaca and A. nipalensis regularly recorded in the country. In addition, a few numbers of the species do migrate southwards over southern Thailand (south of 11oN latitude) during autumn migration. Its passage is peaked in mid-October, according to autumn hawkwatch at Radar Hill, PrachuapKhiri Khan. Interestingly, it appeared that the dark morph of the species was more prevalent than the pale morph. The ratio of dark versus pale morph recorded within a day of the highest number at Radar Hill hawkwatch is 9 to 1. In summary, the status of Booted Eagle in Thailand may be classified as locally uncommon, rather than rare or vagrant as published in the past.


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Figure 2.Provinces where the sightings recorded with the number of sightings in parenthesis.


Keyword: Booted Eagle, Thailand, Status

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