Wild Birds

Steppe Eagles

The Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) is a large bird of prey. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae.

It was once considered to be closely related to the non-migratory Tawny Eagle, Aquila rapax, and the two forms have previously been treated as conspecific (of, or belonging to, the same species).

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.

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Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)


It is about 62-74 cm in length and has a wingspan of 165-190cm.

This is a large eagle with brown upperparts blackish flight feathers and a tail.

Immature birds are less contrasted than adults, but both show a range of variations in plumage colour. The eastern race A. n. nipalensis is larger and darker than the European and Central Asian A. n. orientalis.

Similar Species: This species is larger and darker than the Tawny Eagle, and it has a pale throat which is lacking in that species.

Steppe Eagle, (Aquila nipalensis),

Distribution / Range

The Steppe Eagle breeds from Romania east through the south Russian and Central Asian steppes to Mongolia. The European and Central Asian birds winter in Africa, and the eastern birds in India.

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

Breeding / Nesting

It lays 1-3 eggs in a stick nest in a tree.

Diet / Feeding

The Steppe Eagle’s diet is largely fresh dead animals of all kinds, but it will kill rodents and other small mammals up to the size of a rabbit, and birds up to the size of partridges. It will also steal food from other raptors.

Calls / Vocalizations

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


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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