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What Is the Tawny Eagle?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2014
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The tawny eagle is a large bird formally known as Aquila rapax. It is found in varying shades of brown, has tawny upper parts, and is speckled with white and black feathers. These birds are found mostly in Asia and Africa, but may also appear in Eastern Europe. They mate for life, and both sexes play a role in caring for the young. Although some migrate, many tawny eagles live in groups in one area for long periods.

A tawny eagle's plumage can range from light brown to dark brown. The tawny coloration of parts of the bird's upper body is one of its notable characteristics. The flight feathers and its slightly rounded tail are blackish. The bird has a yellow bill with a dark gray tip and its talons are also yellow. Its legs are generally described as reddish brown.

Females tend to be darker, and they generally have more speckles than males. Young birds are often considered pale when compared to the adults. Another difference between the sexes is that females are generally the bigger of the two. An adult's wing span can range from 5.6 to 6 feet (1.72 to 1.85 m), and it can weigh from 3.5 to 5.2 pounds (1.6 to 2.4 kg).

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The tawny eagle is found in a wide range of habitats, including desert, open savanna, and thin bush veld. They are distributed over a large area and may be found in Asian countries such as India and Nepal and in African countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia. Tawny eagles develop lifelong monogamous bonds with their partners. They breed only once a year and normally do so either in or around their nests. When breeding occurs will vary depending on where the birds are located.

Females are the primary incubators, and they also serve as guardians for their young. For about 10 days, the females generally stay at the nest at all times. After this time has passed, the females begin venturing off, but they tend to stay in a vicinity that allows to them to observe the chicks. The young birds are prone to violence in the nest, and it is common to find that they kill one another.

The males generally provide food for the young for the first seven weeks of their lives. Then the females also tend to assist in this regard. A young tawny eagle is generally reliant on its parents for food until it reaches at least 15 weeks old.

Tawny eagles are carnivores and have diets that often largely consist of insects and small rodents. These birds may also eat other types of animals, such as rabbits and snakes. The tawny eagle is known to steal food from other predators and may scavenge from humans.

The migration tendencies of tawny eagles vary. Some migrate, but others do not. When there is enough food, tawny eagles may live in a group of up to 20 of them within the same territory for a number of years. Another group may be found within a neighboring territory that is positioned within sufficient distance to prevent jeopardizing the food supply.

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