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Eagle, Tawny

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Unread post by j-ms » Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:52 pm

Anyone watching the posts on this LSE/GSE/Steppe/Dark Tawny should also have a look at Simply Birding where a parallel discussion is taking place.

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Unread post by Bok bok » Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:29 pm

Hey Deefstes nice use of rings on the photos - How do you do that? if you look at the last pic of photographed bird and the head shape and gape it looks very similar to the second photo of your own Steppe Eagle photo.

Maybe it's a cross breed like A lesser Spotted Steppe Eagle :lol: :lol:

Whatever it is Elsa they are still very nice photos

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Unread post by deefstes » Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:21 pm

Hi Bok bok, I just drew the circes and lines with Paint Shop Pro but you could use any image editor like Photoshop or Microsoft Paint even.

I'm getting headaches and panic attacks thanks to this bird now. Elsa, you have no idea how you turned my week into a disaster :evil:

I've read all the discussion on SimplyBirding and I think I'm going to stick with my LSE. As I've said all along, I could well be wrong here and Trevor Hardaker considers the bird to be a Tawny Eagle so it's probably rather presumptuous of me to stick with LSE but if I had to tick the bird, that is what I'd go with.

Now can we have a new bird please? :lol:

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Unread post by Boulder » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:27 pm

deefstes wrote:Great pics Klystron and Elsa. I'm afraid but I still can't help you reach a conclusion but I'm sure, with these pictures you are going to be able to identify the bird.

One thing that these new pictures reveal which I'm sure will help in the identification process is the stove-pipe appearance of the legs. Notice how tight the feathers are around the lower legs. This rules out Steppe Eagle and most definitely Booted Eagle if any doubt still existed wether it could be that species. In fact, it rules out just about everything but Lesser Spotted Eagle and Greater Spotted Eagle.

Look, given the evidence at hand, I would probably have ticked Lesser Spotted Eagle but I would have been ignoring Greater Spotted Eagle not based on ID features but purely because I never realistically expect to see it and I don't expect that I'd be able to identify it anyway. But for now, I will stick with my original ID of LSE.

I'm very curious to hear on what grounds Greater Spotted Eagle was suggested and I hope we will still get to see that. I am not at all familiar with GSE and would love to hear why this bird reminds of GSE.

Just two more comments:
@ Bok bok - It is true that LSE has yellow eyes but they do have brown eyes in juvenile plumage, which is typically the plumage that we see them in here in southern Africa.

@ Hanno - I don't have the Roberts VII texts with me but Roberts VI states that the GSE record from Nylsvley is unsubstantiated. This does not mean that doubt exists as to the veracity of the record but simply that no-one other than the original observers saw the bird.

Now that I've seen the pics of the narrow leggings this bird is the Lesser Spotted (Thanks Klystron) Careful examination of the Gape from a different angle shows that it doesnt quite go behind the eye as the Steppe does. What threw me initially was the bird on the ground wher ALL my Steppe sightings have been either climbing into Anthills like this one or eating bull frogs. Elsa ...tick LSE
Dawn greeting of the francolin

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Unread post by Snoobab » Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:41 am

With regards to the raptor the general opinion now is that it is a Tawny. I'm still not 100% sure myself but if you look at the nostril shape which is a very good ID feature I would agree and go with Tawny.

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Unread post by j-ms » Fri Jan 26, 2007 10:03 am

Snoobab wrote:With regards to the raptor the general opinion now is that it is a Tawny. I'm still not 100% sure myself but if you look at the nostril shape which is a very good ID feature I would agree and go with Tawny.

As at 10am this morning, this is the vote at Simply Birding:

What species is the Kruger Park Eagle currently debated?
Steppe Eagle 0% 0% [ 0 ]
Tawny Eagle 55% 55% [ 5 ]
Lesser Spotted Eagle 33% 33% [ 3 ]
Greater Spotted Eagle 11% 11% [ 1 ]
Not sure 0% 0% [ 0 ]

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Unread post by katydownunder » Fri Jan 26, 2007 10:22 pm

Hello everybody !

Once again I need your help :roll:

I took the pic of this very handsome raptor near Biyamiti in November:

The Trip of a lifetime....
Our KTP Adventures November 2010

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Unread post by acekam » Sat Jan 27, 2007 12:00 am

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children

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Unread post by wildtuinman » Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:54 am

I agree with Tawny.

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Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:51 pm

Tawny Eagle, Aquila rapax

Physical characteristics:

The Tawny Eagle is 62-72 cm in length and has a wingspan of 165-185cm. It is universally described as scruffy. The TE looks very similar to the migratory Steppe Eagle, however the two can be told apart by the length of the yellow gape flange which never extends much beyond the middle of the eye in the Tawny Eagle. Heavy bill is dark grey and yellow. The nostril is clearly elongated, or oval. Eyes are yellow-amber. Legs are well covered (appear like baggy trousers) with reddish-brown feathers, talons are yellow. The upperparts are generally tawny while the flight feathers and the long and slightly rounded tail are blackish. The lower back is very pale. While the pictures below show the more typical plumage they also have pale morphs some of which can be almost white, especially in the dry western parts of Southern Africa. Immature birds are less contrasted than adults, but both show a range of variation in plumage colour.

Image Image

The TE was once considered to be closely related to the migratory Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis. They were split based on pronounced differences in morphology and anatomy (Clark, 1992; Olson, 1994; Sangster et al., 2002); molecular analysis indicates that these birds are not even each other's closest relatives.

Lifespan of the TE is set at around 45 years.

Distribution and habitat:

In southern Africa they are found in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Northern and Eastern Namibia, central and Eastern South Africa. They are common in game reserves but rare and declining elsewhere, especially in the Cape Province.

Throughout its range, Africa both north and south of the Sahara Desert and across tropical south-western Asia to India, it favours open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, or savannah with scattered trees.

The TE is resident and territorial and movements will be driven by food concentrations or juveniles finding their own ranges.


The TE is solitary to somewhat gregarious, especially at good food supply.
It will usually perch on the top of trees.
The call of the Tawny Eagle is a crow-like barking, but it is rather a silent bird except in display.


It is an all-embracing feeder with no particular preference that will take mammals up to the size of a fully grown springhare (about 4 kg in weight). It also will eat birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects down to the size of termites. Tawny Eagles will scavenge and may be seen alongside vultures usually at a fresh carcass. They are known to steal prey from other birds. They spend much time near water and drink freely.

Hunting technique:

The Tawny Eagle prefers open areas to hunt by swooping from a perch or in flight, or will chase down prey while walking on the ground.

Breeding and nesting:

Monogamous, breeding occurs mainly from April to July.
The nest consists of a bulky, flat platform of twigs and sticks, lined with grasses and green leaves, some bits of paper and plastic. It is situated most often at the top of a thorny tree, usually Acacia, occasionally on rock face or on the ground. Sometimes usurps other large nests. A clutch of 1-3 white or creamy eggs, speckled with reddish-brown, 70 x 55 mm in size, is laid two days apart. Incubation lasts about 39 to 44 days, is mostly performed by the female with short spells by the male. Chicks are covered with white down. They have brown eyes, black and yellow bill, and yellow legs. At about two weeks, the first down is replaced by thicker down. At this stage the eaglets start to leave the nest for several hours at a time. At about three weeks, scapulars and coverts appear. Plumage is complete at about ten weeks. Young are fed near the nest, and can frequently be seen to exercise their wings. They leave the nest when they are about 80 days old, but they still depend on parents for six weeks more. The young may remain with their parent(s) until the next breeding season.

The older chick frequently kills the younger, but clutches with two young do occur. Young are aggressive when they are five weeks old. When threatened at nest, they open their bills and spread out their wings to intimidate the intruder.
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Unread post by ice » Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:56 am


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Tawny Eagle

Unread post by KampRunner » Wed Apr 11, 2007 10:06 pm


Tawny :?: Snake..... :?: ......dont anybody say bird :!: :evil:
I dreamt of the red dunes again last night.....

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Unread post by wildtuinman » Wed Apr 11, 2007 10:36 pm

Glenda, it could only be one of two raptors... tawny or wahlberg's.

Snake eagles have bigger heads and more distinct coloured eyes as well as unfeathered lower legs.

Wahlberg's gape extends to beyond the eye... Tawny's goes to the middle of the eye. Thus this is a tawny eagle in both pictures.

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Unread post by Johann » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:00 pm

Ok here is my opinion.

@Glenda: Like WTM said Tawny. Large brown raptor could have a few candidates. But the gape length and the nostril shape (oval) points to Tawny.
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Tawny Eagle

Unread post by mja » Wed May 16, 2007 3:49 pm

Near Skukuza.
Tawny eagle.


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