Just for my own clarification - so the Steppe Eagle and the Tawney both have oval nostrils but the Steppe's is more oval?
Sorry Salamanda, I am confusing myself here. It is the Lesser Spotted Eagle's that can be distinguished from Tawny/Steppe Eagle with it's round nostril shape.
WTM is correct in saying there isn't really a difference in nostril shape between Steppe and Tawny.
Fine DD; I have so many confused areas re bird ID that one more makes no difference really
Why I asked is because I saved a helpful piece of info from the forum some time back regarding Tawny Eagles vs Wahlberg's Eagle and I thought I remembered the Tawny's nostril as oval so I'm glad I was right on that, at least!
I cant find it on the forum, but I have now dug my copy up and I'm sure the person who posted it wont mind if I repost it here as it came from the forum and must still be around somewhere . . . . Someone else might find it useful.
Apart from the obvious things such as distribution, coloration and size, to id this bird it would be a good start to look at 4 basic things:
1. Tarsus - Eagles have tarsi which are covered by feathers. Thus this would be on of the eagle species. This would distinguish eagles from similar looking Buzzards.
2. Cere - I've mentioned the cere more for explaining where and what it is rather than helping with an id in raptors. But it is sometimes worthwhile to notice the cere's coloration to distinguish different raptor species. In this case the yellow cere would exclude species like Martial Eagle, Crowned Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, etc.
3. Gape - This bird's gape extends to the middle of the eye. This immediately rules out birds like Steppe and Lesser Spotted eagles. Now we basically broke it down to 2 likely possibilities:
Tawny and Wahlberg's eagles.
4. Nostril - Wahlberg's have a round nostril where as Tawny's is oval shaped.
And via this route we can then conclude that this bird is indeed a Tawny eagle. In the field the eye showed a yellowish eye, indicative of a mature bird.