Tawny Eagle | Aquila rapax

Robert's Bird Of Prey Information: Tawny Eagle

The Tawny Eagle is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Accipitridae bird family group which includes birds such as Raptors, Old Vultures, Osprey.

The majestic, beautiful and large Tawny EagleThe description for the Tawny Eagle (Latin name Aquila rapax) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Aquila rapax can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 132 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 529. You will find a picture of the Tawny Eagle on page 497.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Tawny Eagle between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Tawny Eagle is known in Afrikaans as Roofarend.

The Tawny Eagle has a height of 77 cms and weighs around 2400 gms. The head is coloured brown while the bill is coloured black. The Aquila rapax has a white coloured throat, purple legs and a brown coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

The male Aquila rapax has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is brown.

Eyes are yellow.

Bill is black.

Legs are purple.

Throat is white.

Back is brown.

Photo's & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult Adult Tawny Eagle catches a kalahari mole snake
Female Adult Same as above.
Juvenile Similar to above.
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

Tawny Eagle Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The Tawny Eagle strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

The Aquila rapax attacks smaller birds in flight and uses its sharp claws to break the bird's neck. Some of the birds are attacked in their nests while others are killed on the ground. The Tawny Eagle eats the eggs of its victim.

This bird is a well known scavenger and rarely kills its own prey.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The Tawny Eagle uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

Tawny Eagle Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Tawny Eagle is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 1 to 3 eggs and they are coloured red.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foliage.

The Tawny Eagle is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

The bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Tawny Eagle is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

This bird is usually seen in small family groups or in large flocks.