Whilst birding the Tabuk area in late January, we saw an immature Steppe Eagle showing the bird was wintering in the area. Steppe Eagle is a common passage migrant and uncommon wintering species in Saudi Arabia. There are two recognised subspecies of steppe eagle, Aquilanipalensis nipalensisand Aquilanipalensis orientalis,the latter being slightly smaller, with paler plumage.
Birds from European Russia, eastern Kazakhstan and Turkey (A. n. orientalis) winter in the Middle East, Arabia and East and Southern Africa. The Steppe Eagle is listed as ‘Endangered’ in the 2015 IUCN Red List assessment.
Suspected reasons for decline include, habitat loss/ degradation, electrocution on or collision with energy infrastructure, poisoning through herbicides, pesticides and veterinary drugs in food sources, persecution, mortality of juveniles in fires, taking of chicks and disturbance.
Jem Babbington is a keen birder and amateur photographer located in Dhahran, Eastern Saudi Arabia where he goes birding every day. Jem was born in England and is a serious local patch and local area birder who has been birding for almost forty years and has birded in more than fifty countries. Jem is learning to ring birds in Bahrain as a perfect way to learn more about the birds of the area. Saudi Arabia is a very much under-watched and under-recorded country.