Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)


French: Aigle des steppes German: Steppenadler Spanish: Águila esteparia

Aquila nipalensis


, 1833,

great valley of Nepal


Closely related to A. rapax and A. heliaca (presumably also A. adalberti), and in the past often considered conspecific with first of those (see A. rapax). Races differ little in plumage, and size variation at least partly clinal; species sometimes treated as monotypic#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. n. orientalis Cabanis, 1854 – SE European Russia E to L Balkhash (E Kazakhstan), or perhaps to Tien Shan and Altai; also Inner Anatolia (Turkey)#R; winters in Middle East, Arabia and E & S Africa.
  • A. n. nipalensis Hodgson, 1833 – Altai and Tibet E to NE China; winters mainly in S & SE Asia.
  • Descriptive notes

    60–81 cm; male 2000–3500 g, female 2300–4900 g; wingspan 165–214 cm. Medium-sized to large Aquila. Separable from smaller A. rapax... read more


    Mainly vocal during the breeding season. Principal call is a repeated, harsh, loud barking “kwowk”... read more


    Open habitats such as steppe and semi-desert shrublands and grasslands. Race ... read more

    Food and feeding

    During breeding season, race orientalis is most highly specialized Palearctic Aquila, depending on various species of... read more


    Season Apr–Jul; timing of arrival in spring and start of breeding highly dependent on availability of chief prey species. Large... read more


    Race orientalis completely migratory, leaving breeding areas in late Aug and Sept;... read more

    Status and conservation

    ENDANGERED. CITES II. Common in suitable habitat. Assuming a density as low as one pair/100 km², global population would exceed 160,000 mature individuals. More precise... read more

    Recommended citation

    Meyburg, B.U., Boesman, P., Marks, J.S. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 30 March 2020).