Maybe I should start by explaining that I am not disputing the id.
I did not think you are trying to dispute the ID, WTM….you do however ask valid questions and hopefully the answers will help others.
Just for the record…I cannot take credit for the ID….it was given by Johann
….quite some time ago…I did however spend some time reading up and looking at photos of this eagle and agree with this ID, 100%
I have never seen this bird in the field before and like I have mentioned that if this bird was to be seen from a more tougher angle to make an id from, the legs would seem to be the target area for identification. I am making notes as to what to look out for as this bird does have a lot of similarities with the Wahlberg's Eagle.
The shape of the legs will most definitely help one to ID this bird ….but that is when you are able to see its full leg…..looking at the legs of a bird, perched like this one, one will probably not be able to get a good enough idea of the shape of the feathers on the legs
SASOL III for instance mentions that there is no crest present at the Lesser-Spotted Eagle, but you picture shows the head with ruffled head feathers which inexperienced birders might confuse as a crest (I have too in the past).
True, the LSE does not have a crest, like the Wahlberg’ s does, but in various literature the LSE is described to have "long and pointed nape feathers". I have looked at several photos of juvenile LSE’s, taken in Europe and Middle East….and it appears this eagle often puffs up the feathers on its head, giving it this rounded, spiky look. (example: look on this
page...have to scroll down a bit)
On another point: On basically all the photos I found of juvenile LSE, the white patch on the back was prominent….as it shows on the bird in my photo.
I think this bird of yours could've fooled quite a few people into thinking that it was a Wahlberg's eagle from a front angle.
I agree, and I think it will be very difficult to differentiate between the two when it comes to adult birds….yip, the eye colour should help you, but I’m sure you will agree that eye colour is subject to light conditions etc. It is said that most sightings of LSE’s in southern Africa is of juvenile birds….I believe this is solely because it is easier to ID the juveniles/ immature birds
Some other points one can look at when differentiating between Lesser Spotted and a Wahlberg’s Eagles:
- The Wahlberg’s has a smaller beak…IMHO, you need a very trained eye to notice this.
- When perched, the tail of the Wahlberg’s extends well beyond its wings….and the tail is more square. The tail of the LSE is about the same length as its wings and the tail is rounded.
- The Wahlberg’s Eagle has barring on its lower tail …although, in some birds it is not always that visible.