The Royal Monastery and Palace of El Escorial was the scene of an unusual occurrence last week as one of the rarest birds of prey in the world had to be rescued by on duty Civil Guard officers at the palace.
The lost and dehydrated young imperial eagle was spotted as it struggled to fly in the paved stone grounds of the Royal Monastery near in the village of San Lorenzo situated 50 kms from the capital.
The Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to one of the most impressive architectural masterpieces of the 16th century and home to the pantheon of Spanish kings and resting place of members of the royal family.
Royal officials called for help as the juvenile bird seemed unable to leave the ancient retreat, once home to Felipe II.
It was saved when officers from a wildlife unit of the Civil Guard stepped in and captured the bird on 29th July.
Footage of the rescue shows that after dropping a blanket over its head, the officers were able to put the bird in a transporter box.
Police stated: “The animal was finally transferred to the Wildlife Recovery Centre in the town of Tres Cantos, where it is recovering favourably.”
Ministry of Agriculture official Luis Gonzalez said: “The first records of Spanish Imperial Eagles are from the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene in the eastern Iberian Peninsula, and their distribution seems to have been limited to the distribution areas of Mediterranean vegetation and the European rabbit.”
The Spanish imperial eagle is native to the plains, marshes and hilly regions of central Spain as well as mountain ranges that form part of the Central System in Portugal.
In captivity, these birds can live for up to 41 years, while they live for about 20 years in the wild.
The Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) is currently listed as vulnerable on the endangered species list.
Findings revealed by Bird Life International – a registered charity aimed at conserving birds and their habitats – explain that while most of the poisonings and electrocutions are accidental, they are the most frequent causes of mortality, with 40 percent of cases linked to livestock protection.