Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)


French: Aigle ravisseur German: Savannenadler Spanish: Águila rapaz
Other common names: Indian Tawny Eagle (vindhiana)

Falco rapax


, 1828,

South Africa


Recent phylogenetic analyses indicated that this species forms a monophyletic group with A. nipalensis and A. heliaca (presumably also A. adalberti)#R. Has in the past been considered conspecific with A. nipalensis, but the two differ in morphology, behaviour and ecology, and treatment as separate species supported by molecular analysis#R. Race vindhiana has been considered a separate species, but limited differences do not support this. Three subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. r. vindhiana Franklin, 1831 – SE Iran, Pakistan, much of India, and S Nepal; vagrant in Myanmar.
  • A. r. belisarius (J. Levaillant, 1850) – Morocco and Algeria; SW Arabia and tropical Africa S through E Africa to Congo, NE DRCongo and N Kenya.
  • A. r. rapax (Temminck, 1828) – SE DRCongo and S Kenya S to South Africa and W to Angola and Namibia.
  • Descriptive notes

    60–75 cm; 1600–3100 g; wingspan 159–183 cm. Mid-sized to large eagle, with longish neck, but relatively short wings and slightly rounded to almost square-... read more


    A rather hollow barking “kau-kau” or similar is most typical; also higher-pitched... read more


    Open woodland, wooded savannah, semi-desert and arid steppe; only absent from forest and true... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mammals (to size of hares and dikdiks), birds (including gamebirds such as francolins, guineafowl and bustards, as well as hornbills) and... read more


    Lays in dry season: Sept–Feb in NE Africa (but mainly from Nov in Ethiopia); Oct–Feb in W Africa; Mar–Oct in E Africa (... read more


    Resident in most areas but perhaps some seasonal movement into more arid areas in SW and NE Africa... read more

    Status and conservation

    VULNERABLE. CITES II. Formerly common in many areas, including several large national parks, such as Comoé (Ivory Coast), Hwange (Zimbabwe) with an estimated 200 pairs... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax). 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 23 January 2020).