Wild Birds

Tawny Eagles

Tawny Eagles

The Tawny Eagles (Aquila rapax) 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 migratory Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis, 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.

EaglesBirds of PreyThe Sport of Falconry

Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)

Distribution / Range

It breeds in most of Africa both north and south of the Sahara Desert and across tropical southwestern Asia to India.

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


This is a large eagle — about 62—72 cm in length and a wingspan of 165-185 cm. It weighs 1.6–-2.4 kg. It has tawny upperparts and blackish flight feathers and tail. The lower back is very pale.

Similar Species: 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.

Breeding / Nesting

It is a resident breeder which lays 1–-3 eggs in a stick nest in a tree, crag or on the ground.

Diet / Feeding

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.

Calls / Vocalizations

The call of the Tawny 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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