Tawny eagle

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The tawny eagle (Aquila rapax) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These tawny eagle species are distributed in Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Middle East.

Taxonomy of Tawny eagle

  • Scientific Name: Aquila rapax
  • Common Name: Tawny eagle
  • French: Aigle ravisseur; German: Savannenadler; Spanish: Ɓguila rapaz;
  • Other names: Falco rapax Temminck, 1828; Indian tawny eagle; Aquila rapax rapax;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Temminck, 1828)
Aquila rapax was earlier included in genus Falco. It is closely related to A. nipalensis, A. heliaca and A. adalberti. The three recognized subspecies are: A. r. vindhiana Franklin, 1831, A. r. belisarius (J. Levaillant, 1850) and A. r. rapax (Temminck, 1828).

Indian birds - Image of Tawny eagle - Aquila rapax
Indian birds - Image of Tawny eagle - Aquila rapax


The tawny eagle is a large bird of prey, measuring 60 to 75 cm in length and weighing 1,600 to 3,100 grams. The wingspan is 160 to 180 cm. It has a long neck and relatively short wings. The upper parts are tawny and the flight feathers and tail are blackish. The neck and lower back are very pale. The call of the eagle is a crow-like barking sound.


The tawny eagle inhabits open woodlands and open drylands such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, savannas and plains. They are also found near cultivated lands, settlements and slaughterhouses.

Feeding habits

These eagle species prey on small birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs. They also feed on carrion. They are known to snatch prey from other raptors.


The breeding season varies according to the range. In India the breeding season spans November to August. They build large nest on top of tall isolated trees with sticks and twigs. The nest has 1-3 eggs.


The eagle subspecies A. r. vindhiana is distributed in Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Myanmar. The subspecies A. r. belisarius is distributed in Africa and Middle East nations. The subspecies A. r. rapax is distributed in much of Africa.

Movement Patterns

These eagle species are sedentary and move within their range and make short distance seasonal movements. Some eagles may occasionally wander long distances.

Status and conservation

The tawny eagle species have an extremely large range and are considered least vulnerable. consuming poisoned carcasses and habitat loss 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 rapax
Species:A. rapax
Binomial name:Aquila rapax
Distribution:Indian subcontinent, Africa, the Middle East;
Feeding habits:small birds, small mammals, lizards, frogs and large insects;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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