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Species Guide
A photo of a Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)
Tawny Eagle

Tawny Eagle

Aquila rapax

The Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) is a large bird of prey, belonging to the family Accipitridae. It is characterized by heavily feathered legs, indicative of its membership in the subfamily Aquilinae, or booted eagles. Exhibiting a polymorphic plumage, the Tawny Eagle's coloration ranges from dark grey-brown to rufous-tawny, with a strong and bold bill, well-proportioned frame, and fierce countenance. This eagle is known for its opportunistic feeding habits, engaging in both active predation and scavenging.

Identification Tips

The Tawny Eagle can be identified by its long neck, large bill without a deep gape, and moderately long wings with pronounced "fingers." Its tail is shortish and square-ended, resembling that of a vulture. Adults may have variably colored eyes from yellow to pale brown, with a yellow cere and feet at all ages. The species is polymorphic, with individuals varying in plumage from dark brown to rufous and buffish-yellow.


Tawny Eagles favor open dry habitats such as semideserts, deserts steppes, or savanna plains. They are seldom found in areas completely devoid of trees, as they require perches for hunting and nesting.


The Tawny Eagle has a discontinuous breeding range across much of the African continent and the Indian subcontinent, with rare residency in the southern Middle East.


The Tawny Eagle is largely sedentary and non-migratory, though it may exhibit nomadic tendencies in response to environmental conditions. It spends much of its day perched, taking flight intermittently to hunt or scavenge.

Song & Calls

Generally silent, the Tawny Eagle may occasionally vocalize with a harsh, hollow-sounding bark. Males are more vocal, especially during displays of courtship.


Tawny Eagles are resident breeders, laying one to three eggs in a stick nest typically located in the crown of a tree. They often pair for life and are territorial.

Similar Species

The Tawny Eagle can be confused with the Steppe Eagle, but differs in size, gape, and plumage. It also shares its range with various other booted eagles, but can be distinguished by its unique tail shape, bill size, and flight profile.

Diet and Feeding

The Tawny Eagle has a highly variable diet, including live prey such as small to medium-sized mammals, birds, and reptiles, as well as carrion. It is also known for kleptoparasitism, stealing food from other raptors.

Conservation status

The Tawny Eagle is currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Its population has declined significantly due to habitat loss, persecution, and other anthropogenic factors.

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Tawny Eagle Fun Facts

Did you know?
Tawny Eagles are known to steal food of other raptor species, this is known as kleptoparasitism.

Tawny Eagles on Birda


Similar species

A photo of a Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

Steppe Eagle

Aquila nipalensis

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