Collision between a migrating lesser spotted eagle (Clanga pomarina) and an aircraft as detailed by fine-scale GSM-GPS telemetry data


We tracked a breeding adult female lesser spotted eagle (Clanga pomarina) from Germany using GPS technology, and provide details of her collision with a small aircraft at Rzeszów (SE Poland) during April 2016, when she was migrating towards her breeding territory. The ultimate fate of the bird was not established until the tag was found by chance and the data were recovered. Bird strikes are a global problem with sometimes lethal consequences for animals and people. This account highlights the way technology allows us to closely monitor events during bird migration, and document human-raptor interactions. The collision illustrates how food availability might affect bird-strike risk, and indicates that removing animal carcasses from the vicinity of airports could reduce that risk. We discuss the data in relation to risks faced by lesser spotted eagles (and other soaring birds) of collision with aircraft, especially along flyways during migration seasons.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Allan JR 2000: The costs of bird strikes and bird strike prevention. Human Conflicts with Wildlife: Economic Considerations. Paper 18. Retrieved March 14, 2017 from

  • Allan JR & Orosz AP 2001: The cost of birdstrikes to commercial aviation. 2001 Birdstrike Committee – USA/Canada. Third Joint Meeting. Calgary, Canada. Paper 2. Retrieved March 14, 2017 from

  • Böhner J & Langgemach T 2004: Warum kommt es auf jeden einzelnen Schreiadler Aquila pomarina in Brandenburg an? Ergebnisse einer Populationsmodellierung. Vogelwelt 125: 271–281.

  • BirdLife International 2017a: Migratory soaring bird project. Wind energy guidance – birds and wind farms within the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway. Retrieved November 13, 2017 from

  • BirdLife International 2017b: Species factsheet: Clanga pomarina. Retrieved March 14, 2017 from

  • Blackwell BF, Seamans TW, Schmidt PM, Vault TL, Belant JL, Whittingham MJ, Martin JA & Fernández-Juricic E 2013: A framework for managing airport grasslands and birds amidst conflicting priorities. Ibis 155: 199–203.

  • Blackwell BF & Wright SE 2006: Collisions of redtailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), turkey vultures (Cathartes aura), and black vultures (Coragyps atratus) with aircraft: implications for bird strike reduction. Journal of Raptor Research 40: 76–80.

  • Brendel UM, Eberhardt R & Wiesmann K 2002: Conservation of the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) in the European Alps – a combination of education, cooperation, and modern techniques. Journal of Raptor Research 36: 20–24.

  • de Lucas M, Janss GFE & Ferrer M (eds) 2007: Birds and windfarms – risk assessment and mitigation. Quercus, Madrid.

  • DeVault TL, Blackwell BF & Belant JL (eds) 2013: Wildlife in airport environments: preventing animal-aircraft collisions through science-based management. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

  • Dolbeer RA 2006: Height distribution of birds recorded by collisions with civil aircraft. USDA National Wildlife Research Center - Staff Publications. Paper 500. Retrieved March 14, 2017 from

  • Erickson WP, Johnson GD & David Jr P 2005: A summary and comparison of bird mortality from anthropogenic causes with an emphasis on collisions, 1029–1042. In: Ralph CJ & Rich TD (eds), Bird Conservation Implementation and Integration in the Americas: Proceedings of the Third International Partners in Flight Conference. March 20–24, 2002; Asilomar, California. Volume 2 Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191. Albany, CA: US Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station.

  • Forman RTT & Alexander LE 1998: Roads and their major ecological effects. Annual Review Ecology and Systematics 29: 207–231.

  • Gauthreaux SA 1991: The flight behavior of migrating birds in changing wind fields: radar and visual analyses. American Zoologist 31: 187–204.

  • Gedeon K, Grüneberg C, Mitschke A, Sudfeldt C, Eickhorst W, Fischer S, Flade M, Frick S, Geiersberger I, Koop B, Kramer M, Krüger T, Roth N, Ryslavy T, Stübing S, Sudmann SR, Steffens R, Vökler F & Witt K 2014: Atlas Deutscher Brutvogelarten. SVD und DDA, Hohenstein-Ernstthal und Münster.

  • Grünkorn T 2015: A large-scale, multispecies assessment of avian mortality rates at onshore wind turbines in northern Germany (PROGRESS). Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts (CWW) March 10–12, 2015. Berlin.

  • Jenny D 2010: Kollisionen zwischen Steinadlern Aquila chrysaetos und Flugzeugen in den Alpen. Ornithologische Beobachter 107: 101–110.

  • Karacor EK & Korshid D 2015: Projected environmental effects of the third airport in Istanbul. Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment 13: 223–227.

  • Kitowski I 2011: Civil and military birdstrikes in Europe: an ornithological approach. Journal of Applied Sciences 11: 183–191.

  • Köppel J (ed.) 2017: Wind energy and wildlife interactions. Springer, Cham. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-51272-3.

  • Krüger O, Grünkorn T & Struwe-Juhl B 2010: The return of the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) to northern Germany: modelling the past to predict the future. Biological Conservation 143: 710–721.

  • Langgemach T & Dürr T 2018: Informationen über Einflüsse der Windenergienutzung auf Vögel. Stand 12. Februar 2018. Landesamt für Umwelt Brandenburg, Staatliche Vogelschutzwarte. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from

  • Leshem J, Leshem Y, Bahat O & Lachman E 1999: Flying with the birds. Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv.

  • Leshem Y 1992: Predicting the regularity of bird migration in global bottleneck areas on a daily, seasonal, and yearly scale, and its implementation in the Israel Air Force and civilian flight, 243–258. In: Proceedings of the 21st Bird Strike Committee Europe, Jerusalem.

  • Leshem Y & Shamoun-Baranes J 2000: Flight safety, internet and education – a leading tool for global awareness, 17–21. In: Proceedings of 25th International Bird Strike Committee Meeting. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

  • Manville II AM 2005: Bird strike and electrocutions at power lines, communication towers, and wind turbines: state of the art and state of the science-next steps toward mitigation, 1051–1064. In: Ralph CJ & Rich TD (eds), Bird Conservation Implementation and Integration in the Americas: Proceedings of the Third International Partners in Flight Conference. March 20–24, 2002; Asilomar, California. Volume 2 Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191. Albany, CA: US Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific South-west Research Station.

  • Martin GR, Portugal SJ & Murn CP 2012: Visual fields, foraging and collision vulnerability in Gyps vultures. Ibis 154: 626–631.

  • Martin GR & Shaw JM 2010: Bird collisions with power lines: Failing to see the way ahead? Biological Conservation 143: 2695–2702.

  • Merriman JW, Boal CW, Bashore TL, Zwank PJ & Wester DB 2007: Abundance of diurnal raptors in relation to prairie dog colonies: implications for bird-aircraft strike hazard. Journal of Wildlife Management 71: 811–815.

  • Meyburg B-U & Fuller MR 2007: Satellite tracking, 242–248. In: Bird DM & Bildstein KL (eds), Raptor research and management techniques. Hancock House Publishers, Surrey.

  • Meyburg B-U, Haraszthy L, Strazds M & Schäffer N 2001: European Species Action Plan for lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina), 1–24. In: Schäffer N & Gallo-Orsi U (eds), European Union action plans for eight priority bird species. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 24.

  • Meyburg B-U, Langgemach T, Graszynski K & Böhner J 2004: The situation of the lesser spotted eagle Aquila pomarina in Germany: The need for an action plan and active conservation, 601–613. In: Chancellor RD & Meyburg B-U (eds), Raptors Worldwide. WWGBP & MME, Budapest.

  • Meyburg B-U & Meyburg C 2009: Satelliten-Telemetrie beim Schreiadler (Aquila pomarina). Labus, Naturschutz im Landkreis Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Sonderheft 13: 16–44.

  • Meyburg B-U & Meyburg C 2015: Mortal danger – do not fly to Istanbul during bird migration! In: Dravecký M & Guziová Z (eds), Abstracts of contributions presented at the International Conference on the Conservation of the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Slovakia, 2014. Slovak Raptor Journal 9: 71–93. DOI: 10.1515/srj-2015-0006.

  • Meyburg B-U, Meyburg C, Bělka T, Šreibr O & Vrana J 2004: Migration, wintering and breeding of a lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) from Slovakia tracked by satellite. Journal of Ornithology 145: 1–7.

  • Meyburg, B-U, Meyburg C, Matthes J & Matthes H 2007: Heimzug, verspätete Frühjahrsankunft, vorübergehender Partnerwechsel und Bruterfolg beim Schreiadler Aquila pomarina. Vogelwelt 128: 21–31.

  • Meyburg B-U, Scheller W & Meyburg C 1995: Zug und Überwinterung des Schreiadlers Aquila pomarina: Satellitentelemetrische Untersuchungen. Journal of Ornithology 136: 401–422.

  • Mikiara Š 1990: Lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) attacking glider. Buteo 5: 101–102.

  • Richardson WJ & West T 2000: Serious birdstrike accidents to military aircraft: updated list and summary, 67–98. In: Proceedings of 25th International Bird Strike Committee Meeting. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

  • Shamoun-Baranes J, Leshem Y, Yom-Tov Y & Liechti O 2003: Differential use of thermal convection by soaring birds over central Israel. Condor 105: 208–218.

  • Scheller W 2007: Standortwahl von Windenergieanlagen und Auswirkungen auf die Schreiadlerbrutplätze in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Naturschutzarb. Meckl.-Vorp. 50: 12–22.

  • Schekler I, Troupin D, Leshem Y & Sapir N 2018: Bird-aircraft collision database of the Israeli air force. Excerpt from unpublished report. Animal Flight Lab, University of Haifa, Israel.

  • Sherwood B, Cutler D & Burton J 2002: Wildlife and roads. The ecological impact. Imperial College Press, London.

  • Sodhi NS 2002: Competition in the air: birds versus air-craft. The Auk 119: 587–595.

  • Stahl JT & Oli MK 2006: Relative importance of avian life-history variables to population growth rate. Ecological Modelling 198: 22–39.

  • Thorpe J 2003: Fatalities and destroyed civil aircraft due to bird strikes, 1912–2002. In: International Bird Strike Committee, 26th Meeting. Warsaw, Poland.

  • Viljoen IM & Bouwman H 2016: Conflicting traffic: characterization of the hazards of birds flying across an airport runway. African Journal of Ecology 54: 308–316.

  • Vökler F, Heinze B, Sellin D & Zimmermann H 2014: Rote Liste der Brutvögel Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schwerin.

  • Zalles JI & Bildstein KL 2000: Raptor watch: a global directory of raptor migration sites. BirdLife International and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Cambridge, UK and Kempton, USA.


Journal + Issues