Aquila rapax (Tawny eagle)
Roofarend [Afrikaans]; Ukhozi (generic term for eagle)
[Xhosa]; Ngongo (also applied to Lesser spotted eagle) [Kwangali]; Ntsu
(also applied to Bearded vulture) [South Sotho]; Ntshukôbôkôbô [North
Sotho]; Gondo (generic name for eagle) [Shona]; Lusoti (generic for
eagles) [Swazi]; Ghama (generic term for eagle) [Tsonga]; Ntsu, Ntswi
(generic terms for eagles) [Tswana]; Afrikaanse steppearend [Dutch]; Aigle
ravisseur [French]; Raubadler [German]; Águia-fulva [Portuguese]
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fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial
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(four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota >
Reptilia (reptiles) >
Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria >
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Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves
(birds) > Order: Falconiformes
> Family: Accipitridae
> Genus: Aquila
Distribution and habitat
Occupies much of sub-Saharan Africa excluding the lowland
forests of the DRC and surrounding countries. It generally prefers
lightly-wooded savanna, but it also occurs Nama Karoo and treeless
grasslands, provided that there are pylons and alien trees to nest in.
Distribution of Tawny eagle in southern Africa,
based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas
Animal Demography unit, University of
Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range
from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).
See here for the latest distribution
from the SABAP2.
Movements and migrations
Resident and locally nomadic, moving in search
of local abundances of food such as Red-billed quelea colonies.
Predator, pirate and scavenger, feeding on a wide variety
of animals. It usually hunts from a perch, swooping down to
catch a bird in flight or pounce on prey on the ground. It also regularly
scavenges roadkills, and sometimes competes with vultures and
Marabou storks at
carcasses. The following food items have been recorded
in its diet:
- Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, performing a courtship display in
which the breeding pair circle together, in shallow undulating
- The nest is a platform of sticks, lined with green leaves, grass and
litter, such as paper and plastic bags. It is typically placed on top of a
large tree, especially a large Acacia, or alternatively on a
buffalo-weaver colony or on the top-most cross-bar of a pylon. It also takes
over the nests of other birds, including
storks and vultures.
- Egg-laying season is from March-September, peaking from April-June.
- It lays 1-3 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about
- For the first 10 days of the chicks' lives, they are brooded almost constantly by the female.
At this early stage, the male provides most of the food, although later
in the nestling period the female also contributes. The chicks take their
first flight at about 11-12 weeks old, still returning the nest to be fed
for a further six weeks before becoming fully independent.
Not threatened globally, although its range in southern
Africa has contracted sharply, due to persecution; it is listed as locally
Endangered in Namibia.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts
- Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.