Numbers of breeding Little Eagles Hieraaetus morphnoides in the Australian Capital Territory in relation to atlas counts

The Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides is undergoing a severe decline in parts of south-eastern Australia, including the Australian Capital Territory, even though atlas reporting rates may suggest that Little Eagle numbers are stable or declining only moderately. We compared trends in atlas reporting rates of the Little Eagle, and the number of occupied Little Eagle breeding territories (active nests), in the ACT during 1988–2011. We found that, although the number of occupied territories or breeding pairs declined from 13 to one (i.e. >90% decline), the number of reported Eagle sightings fl uctuated about a rather constant level. Because atlas surveys may not accurately refl ect declines, or the severity of declines, in some raptors, we suggest that atlas data are combined with surveys of nesting raptors to assess trends in raptor numbers.

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