Pallas’s Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus)

Project: Migratory connectivity of Pallas’s Fish Eagle populations in Asia

The Pallas’s Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) is a globally threatened species that occurs in wetlands in parts of Southern Asia, but whose ecology is poorly documented. What is known thus far, however, makes this eagle stand out from other, related species: it breeds in winter, and migrates across the highest mountain range in the world. Recent data show that Pallas’ Fish-eagle breeding south of the Himalayans spend their non-breeding period as far north as Mongolia, traversing the peaks of the mountain range, the Tibetan plateau and the Gobi deserts during their travels. In this project, researchers in Mongolia, Bangladesh, Germany and Sweden work together to study both breeding and migration of these magnificent eagles in order to provide better knowledge for their conservation.

Facts about the project

Projekt name
Migratory connectivity of Pallas’s Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) populations in Asia
Project manager

Jonas Waldenström
Other project members
Mariëlle van Toor
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University, Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia; IUCN Bangladesh; Max Plank Institute of Animal Behaviour, Germany

Ecology (Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)
Research group
Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology
Follow the birds here:

More about the project

The population of Pallas’s Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus), once thought to be a common raptor along rivers and lakes in large parts of Asia, has dwindled in numbers in the last century. Today, the species is listed as Endangered with a population of less than 2500 adult birds, primarily occurring in India and Bangladesh. Lack of data means that these estimates are uncertain.

Among raptors, Pallas’s Fish Eagle is one of the least known species and it was just recently understood that the birds breeding in the north.east of the Indian subcontinent actually spend their non-breeding period in lands far to the north, reaching lakes in steppes of southern Mongolia. To do this they travel more than 2500 km, across the Himalayan mountains, the Tibetan high plateau and the Gobi deserts. Truly a remarkable journey! It is also different to most other species in that it breeds during the dry season, rather than after the monsoon. This is probably linked to the occurrence of wintering dabbling ducks, and concentrations of fish in remaining waterbodies during the dry season. Currently, very little is known about the general ecology, and particularly the migratory movements and connectivity between the breeding populations of the species.

In this project, researchers in Mongolia, Bangladesh, Germany and Sweden work together to gather knowledge about the annual cycle of Pallas’s Fish Eagles and the migratory connectivity between populations within its range. One method of doing this is to use satellite telemetry, where the movements of individuals can be followed in great detail through satellite tags carried by the birds. In 2020, four eagles were tagged in Mongolia, and can now be followed in the Animal Tracker app or on Movebank (search for Pallas’s Fish Eagle). 

The project is part of the research in the research group Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology and in Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems (EEMiS).