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Tawny Eagle - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo © by juninho
Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya
Aquila rapax


60–75 cm (23½-29½ in)
Tawny upperparts and blackish flight feathers and tail. The lower back is very pale.
Tawny Eagle has nostrils on a diagonal that is almost vertical, and the gape goes back only to mid eye. The iris is honey coloured and the bill heavy.

Similar species

Wahlberg's Eagle and Steppe Eagle


Subspecies A. r. vindhiana
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India, February-2016

Africa. Widespread and common in sub-Saharan Africa breeding from southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya south to eastern South Africa. Also breeds within the Western Palearctic in Morocco and a small area of northern Algeria. Formerly also bred in Tunisia. Locally also in India, Pakistan and southern Nepal.

Mainly resident but has occurred further north in Morocco and as a vagrant elsewhere in North Africa east to Egypt and exceptionally also recorded in Israel. In Europe recorded in Spain and Sardinia.


Considered conspecific with Steppe Eagle A. nipalensis by some authors.


Three subspecies recognized[1]:

  • A. r. cirtensis:
  • A. r. rapax:
  • A. r. vindhiana:
Take-off showing upper and under wings and trousers
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India, March-2019

Vindhiana is sometimes included in Steppe Eagle or accepted as full species.


Semi-arid Acacia savanna, and also semi-desert, and steppes.



Their clutch contains 1–3 eggs.The nest is constructed from sticks and placed in small trees, crags, rocks and ruins, or on the ground.


The diet consists largely of fresh carrion; 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.


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. 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. Birdforum thread discussing nostril characters

Recommended Citation

External Links

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