Steppe eagle

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The steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These steppe eagle species are distributed in Europe, Asia, Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Middle East.

Taxonomy of Steppe eagle

  • Scientific Name: Aquila nipalensis
  • Common Name: Steppe eagle
  • French: Aigle des steppes; German: Steppenadler; Spanish: Ɓguila esteparia;
  • Other names: Aquila rapax nipalensis;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Hodgson, 1833)
Aquila nipalensis is closely related to A. rapax, A. heliaca and A. adalberti. The two recognized subspecies are: A. n. orientalis Cabanis, 1854 and A. n. nipalensis Hodgson, 1833.

Birds of India - Image of Steppe eagle - Aquila nipalensis
Birds of India - Image of Steppe eagle - Aquila nipalensis


The steppe eagle is a large bird of prey, measuring 70 to 80 cm in length and weighing 2,400 to 4,000 grams. The wingspan is 160 to 200 cm. The female eagle is slightly larger than the male. It has brown upperparts. The flight feathers and tail are blackish. The gape extends beyond the centre of the eye. The nostril is oval. The call of the steppe eagle sounds like a crow barking.


These eagle species inhabit open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes and savannah.

Feeding habits

The steppe eagle feeds on small birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs. They also feed on fresh carrion of all kinds. They are also known to steal feed from other birds of prey.


The breeding season of these eagle species is from April to July. A large platform nest is built on ground or on tree with sticks and twigs. One to three eggs are laid.


The eagle subspecies A. n. orientalis is distributed in Europe and Central Asia. It winters in Middle East, Arabia and Africa. The subspecies A. n. nipalensis is distributed in Tibet and China. It winters in Nepal, India and Southeast Asia.

Movement Patterns

These eagle species are migratory and the birds move to south-east Africa, southern Asia and India for wintering. They leave their breeding grounds between August and October and return between January and May.

Status and conservation

The steppe eagle species have an extremely large range and population. They are considered least vulnerable. Habitat degradation, destruction of breeding sites, accidents with power lines are the major threats to the survival of these species of birds.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these eagle species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Aquila nipalensis
Species:A. nipalensis
Binomial name:Aquila nipalensis
Distribution:Europe, Asia, Indian subcontinent, Africa, the Middle East;
Feeding habits:small birds, small mammals, lizards, frogs and fresh carrion;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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