Definitions

Tawny Eagle

Tawny Eagle

The Tawny Eagle, Aquila rapax, is a large bird of prey. It is about 62–72 cm in length and has a wingspan of 165–185cm. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. It was once considered to be closely related to the migratory Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis, and the two forms have previously been treated as conspecific. They were split based on pronounced differences in morphology and anatomy (Clark, 1992; Olson, 1994; Sangsteret al., 2002); molecular analysis indicates that these birds are not even each other's closest relatives.

It breeds in most of Africa both north and south of the Sahara Desert and across tropical southwestern Asia to India. It is a resident breeder which lays 1–3 eggs in a stick nest in a tree, crag or on the ground.

Throughout its range it favours open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, or savannah.

This is a large eagle with tawny upperparts and blackish flight feathers and tail. The lower back is very pale. This species is smaller and paler than the Steppe Eagle, although it does not share that species' pale throat.

Immature birds are less contrasted than adults, but both show a range of variation in plumage colour.

The Tawny Eagle's diet is largely fresh carrion of all kinds, but it will kill small mammals up to the size of a rabbit, reptiles and birds up to the size of guineafowl. It will also steal food from other raptors.

The call of the Tawny Eagle is a crow-like barking, but it is rather a silent bird except in display.

References

  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Clark, W. S. (1992): The taxonomy of Steppe and Tawny Eagles, with criteria for separation of museum specimens and live eagles. 'Bull. B.O.C.'' 112: 150–157.
  • Olson, Storrs L. (1994): Cranial osteology of Tawny and Steppe Eagles Aquila rapax and A. nipalensis. Bull. B.O.C. 114: 264–267.
  • Sangster, George; Knox, Alan G.; Helbig, Andreas J. & Parkin, David T. (2002): Taxonomic recommendations for European birds. Ibis 144(1): 153–159. PDF fulltext
  • Tawny Eagle at Animal Diversity Web

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