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Steppe Eagle - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies : 2nd Calendar Year
Photo © by Sumit
Himalayas, India, 2003
Aquila nipalensis


72–81 cm (28-32 in)

  • Brown upperparts
  • Pale throat
  • Blackish flight feathers and tail, .

Gape line goes back behind the mid of the eye, often to the rear edge but not always. Gape is fleshy and nostril oval.

Similar species

Nominate subspecies : under and upper-wing
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Nazafgarh Wetlands, Delhi-Gurgaon Border, Haryana, India, February-2018

In Europe look at Greater Spotted Eagle and Lesser Spotted Eagle; in Africa also Tawny Eagle and Wahlberg's Eagle


Subspecies A. n. orientalis
Photo © by Daniele Occhiato
Raysut, Dhofar, Oman, Oct-2007

Eurasia, India and Africa.

Breeds from the northern slopes of the Caucasus to the north of the Caspian Sea in southern Russia and Kazakhstan and east into Central Asia as far as north-west China and Tibet. Probably now extinct in the Ukraine and a former breeder in Moldova, Romania and Turkey. Further south breeds in Pakistan, India and Burma.

In the northern winter found mainly in Eastern and Southern Africa, small numbers in Iraq and Israel, occasionally Greece and Turkey. On passage occurs in Turkey and the Middle East, Sinai and Egypt but generally rather scarce. Eastern birds winter south to Pakistan, India and southern China.

Annual or almost so in Sweden and Finland, vagrants also recorded west to the Netherlands and France, various European countries and south to Sardinia, Tunisia and Chad.


Considered conspecific with Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax by some authors. The subspecies vindhiana of the latter is sometimes included in this species.


There are 2 subspecies[1]:

  • A. n. orientalis:
  • A. n. nipalensis:
  • Altai Mountains to Tibet and Manchuria; winters India to south-eastern China


Subspecies A. n. orientalis : Probably second year bird
Photo © by rony_roshtov
Eylat, Israel, April 2006

Lowland steppe, semi-desert and foothills. Occurs up to 2300 m.



The diet consists mostly of carrion, but will kill rodents, small mammals and birds. Subspecies orientalis specialises in hunting suslick (ground squirrels). They will also snatch food from other raptors.

Nominate subspecies : Pair
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Gurgaon, Haryana, India, Jan-2015


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Sinclair et al. 2002. Birds of Southern Africa. Princeton Field Guides, Princeton, New Jersey, USA. ISBN 0-691-09682-1
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved June 2015)
  4. AvianWeb

Recommended Citation

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