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Tawny/Wahlbergs and other confusing raptors.

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Tawny/Wahlbergs and other confusing raptors.

Unread postby Pumbaa » Sun Jul 27, 2008 2:15 pm

I need some help from the bird experts in identifying the following eagle - I have always problems in identifying "brown" eagles in KNP. :lol:

Pictures have been taken close to Girivana waterhole in KNP on 18.02.08

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Image

Thanks in advance for your help :dance:

BTW my first guess was tawny eagle but this one was relative small compared to other tawnys which we saw.

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Unread postby Bush Baptist » Sun Jul 27, 2008 2:51 pm

From the cere & the white bits on the wing, it looks like a Wahlberg's to me, and 'small' is another clue.
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Unread postby Imberbe » Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:02 pm

I think it is the Wahlberg's Eagle. Your indication of size is important. Time of year is good, since it is a summer visitor. Gape and colour of the cere look correct.

But lets hear what the birders think.
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Unread postby MarkWildDog » Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:04 pm

Wahlbergs eagle. Couldnt have said it any better myself, Imberbe. 8)

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:29 pm

The pic is not all clear when I zoom in, but the nostril shape seems to favor Wahlberg's Eagle, being rounded and lying more horizontal than vertical.
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Unread postby Johann » Mon Jul 28, 2008 4:12 pm

Looks like a stock-standard streaky form of a Tawny Eagle to me.

- The talons and bill look a bit too "strong" for Wahlberg's.
- Those baggy pants I would also normally associate more with Tawny.
- The shape of the head is more Tawny than Wahlberg's (to me in any case) Wahlberg's more rounded versus the flat head of the Tawny. Please tell me if I'm wrong guys, just something I've picked up over time.
- The nostrils, when enlarged on my screen look to be oval and vertical? So between me and wildtuinman, one of us either needs a new monitor or new specs :lol: (How do you get round nostrils to be lying more horisontal or vertical anyway? Should be the same either way, shouldn't it? Just asking)
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Unread postby Jumbo » Mon Jul 28, 2008 5:32 pm

I’m a tad cautious to again add my opinion to these ID threads (to put it mildly :lol: )….so I will keep my opinion to myself and just add my observations to the thread (as a novice birder who feel I can learn more from the threads where all the experts are allowed to give advice :wink: ).

This eagle does, to the last feather, resemble a “striped” Tawny I have photographed in the Kgalagadi….we knew that one was a Tawny because it was part of a couple at their nest, with the other eagle displaying the typical Tawny colour etc. (and Wahlberg's are not found in the Kgalagadi)
Where Pumbaa’s eagle differ tho, to my novice eye….its tail and wings appears to be longer than "my" striped Tawny? :?

@ Falconry4ever, thank you for the confirmation of the Lizard Buzzard :D

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Unread postby Richprins » Mon Jul 28, 2008 7:12 pm

Jumbo wrote:I’m a tad cautious to again add my opinion to these ID threads (to put it mildly :lol: )….


:D

Agree with all Johann's points on the "Tawny" option!

Definitely a robust bird! 8)

(And I agree with Jumbo... :twisted: )

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:04 am

Pumbaa wrote:At least I was not that bad at all - first guess was a Tawny :lol:

Two more raptors to come shortly where I need your ID help :roll:


You said that the bird was smaller than the previous Tawny Eagles you've seen?? Don't discard that fact.

Pumbaa wrote:BTW my first guess was tawny eagle but this one was relative small compared to other tawnys which we saw.


Johann wrote:The nostrils, when enlarged on my screen look to be oval and vertical? So between me and wildtuinman, one of us either needs a new monitor or new specs :lol: (How do you get round nostrils to be lying more horisontal or vertical anyway? Should be the same either way, shouldn't it? Just asking)[


If you look at the difference between Wahlberg's and Tawny Eagle's nostril shapes you will clearly see a difference in the shape and size of it. The first picture shows a nostril lying more horizontally than vertically, giving a more rounded appearance. A Tawny's nostril is quite prominent and noticeably elongated in a vertical shape.

Both Tawny and Wahlberg's have baggy tarsi.

Pumbaa, like I've said earlier, it is difficult to see the nostril shape after I've zoomed in as the picture distorts quite a lot. If you want to, mail me the original pictures to wildtuinman@yahoo.com then I will gladly check it for you and give you my honest opinion.

The nostril shape is vital in distinguishing the Wahlberg's from the Tawny Eagles.
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Unread postby Johann » Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:04 am

wildtuinman wrote:You said that the bird was smaller than the previous Tawny Eagles you've seen?? Don't discard that fact.

Females are usually quite a bit bigger than the males so that could be a reason? Doesn't necessarily mean a different species.

wildtuinman wrote:If you look at the difference between Wahlberg's and Tawny Eagle's nostril shapes you will clearly see a difference in the shape and size of it. The first picture shows a nostril lying more horizontally than vertically, giving a more rounded appearance. A Tawny's nostril is quite prominent and noticeably elongated in a vertical shape.

Not to get in a long discussion about this but round is round, if it is horisontal or vertical. The orientation shouldn't make a difference. But maybe get the original pic and let's have a look.

wildtuinman wrote:Both Tawny and Wahlberg's have baggy tarsi.

Yes, I know but most of the time Wahlberg's are much neater than what we see here. Tawny has got some wild pants ons.

wildtuinman wrote:The nostril shape is vital in distinguishing the Wahlberg's from the Tawny Eagles.

Yes, it is an important factor and makes life a bit easier but it also ain't the only thing to look at. I still believe the head, bill and talons (GISS) of this bird makes me believe it is a Tawny Eagle.
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Unread postby francoisd » Tue Jul 29, 2008 12:42 pm

To me most raptors are just Big Brown Jobs which is more of an nusense than LBJs.

I ignored most of the opinions above trying to reach some sort of conclusion on my own

The overall giss of this bird says Tawny to me but what do I know of these frustrating birds!

As many mentioned the nostril shape and orientation should help in the ID but here it just add to confusion. In the 1st photo the nostril does not seem to be vertical nor horizontal but more angled. In the 2nd photo taken nearly face on the nostril seems to be more vertical which will the sway it towards Tawny.

The eye of the bird is light brown on the enlarged photo I worked from and especially in photo 2 the eye is nearly the same colour as the feathers on the chin area. Wahlberg's is supposed to have a dark brown eye according to the books I have available at work.
According to {translated title} Raptors: an identification guide for southern Africa Wahlberg's Eagle has a dark eye which together with the dark spot in front of the eye gives the bird a characteristic facial expression.

The tail also seems a little short Wahlberg's if I compare it to photos on the net and in my books. Difficult to see if it is more square or round shaped in the photos.

As to the neatness of the baggy trousers I think that is a difficult one to use as the Tawny in this photo has some neat trousers on.

But as I've mentioned at the beginning raptors are not my strong point and I also do not get a lot of time to bird areas with a lot of raptors.

I've also emailed the photos to TG and will hear what he has to say and maybe he'll proof me wrong as on many other occasions :lol:
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:03 pm

Johann, unless the male and female sits next to each other, and then still it is difficult, one would battle to differentiate the male and female birds of the same species.

The two sexes of Tawny Eagles differ in size by up to 6 cm.

I have seen The Verreaux's Eagles sitting next to each other at Walter Sisulu and they differ by as much as 12 cm and then even is it not the easiest task to differentiate between the male and female.

Cois, I would not go on nostril shape on the second pic. The first pic is way more clearer from a nostril point of view.

ps: I haven't received the original pics from Pumbaa yet.
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Unread postby Jumbo » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:31 pm

Another one for the experts :D ……I saw this raptor near Punda Maria, middle October 2007.

Image

This was unfortunately quite far off…I have 5 photos, but none are of much help and all of them only got the bird from the back….below, a serious crop …I also used PS to considerably lighten it in order to see its features.

Image

The features I can spot:
Yellow cere
It looks like its eyes are quite light…but due to the quality of the photo, I cannot make a call on the colour of the eyes.
It might have a bit of a crest….but this was taken early in the morning and it might also just be that the bird “puffed” itself up while basking in the sun.
Its tail extends quite a bit past the folded wings.

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Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:41 pm

Just to clear things up.

Personally I like to look at the nostril shape to differentiate between the Tawny and Wahlberg's Eagles. Personally I don't feel comfortable enough to exclude the one or the other after not being able to have a clear look at the nostril.

I have seen to many pictures of Wahlberg's being called Tawny Eagles and vice versa based on looks alone. and the nostril is the one area I feel one can safely make a call on.
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Unread postby Johann » Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:23 pm

wildtuinman wrote:Johann, unless the male and female sits next to each other, and then still it is difficult, one would battle to differentiate the male and female birds of the same species.

The two sexes of Tawny Eagles differ in size by up to 6 cm.

I have seen The Verreaux's Eagles sitting next to each other at Walter Sisulu and they differ by as much as 12 cm and then even is it not the easiest task to differentiate between the male and female.


Yes, that is sometimes true. Not always the easiest thing to distinguish between sexes.
I tend not to look at the sizes in centimetres but rather at the weight given in some guides. This gives one a better idea of the bulk of a bird, especially with raptors. And this is where one "sees" the difference.
I did offer "that could be a reason?", didn't mean it as the answer.
Last edited by Johann on Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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