Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Steppe eagle

Thai: นกอินทรีทุ่งหญ้าสเต็ป, nok in-sree thung yaa sa-tep

Binomial name: Aquila nipalensis, Brian Houghton Hodgson, 1833

The steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis) is a bird of prey. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. It was once considered to be closely related to the non-migratory tawny eagle (Aquila rapax) and the two forms have previously been treated as conspecific. They were split based on pronounced differences in morphology and anatomy; two molecular studies, each based on a very small number of genes, indicate that the species are distinct but disagree over how closely related they are.

Description

It is about 62 – 81 cm in length and has a wingspan of 1.65 – 2.15 m. Females, weighing 2.3 – 4.9 kg, are slightly larger than males, at 2 – 3.5 kg. This is a large eagle with brown upperparts and blackish flight feathers and tail. This species is larger and darker than the tawny eagle, and it has a pale throat which is lacking in that species. Immature birds are less contrasted than adults, but both show a range of variation in plumage colour. The eastern subspecies A. n. nipalensis is larger and darker than the European and Central Asian A. n. orientalis.

The call of the steppe eagle sounds like a crow barking, but it is rather a silent bird.

Habitat and Feeding

The steppe eagle breeds from Romania east through the south Russian and Central Asian steppes to Mongolia. The European and Central Asian birds winter in Africa, and the eastern birds in India. It lays 1–3 eggs in a stick nest in a tree. Throughout its range it favours open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, or savannah.

Large numbers are seen at certain places such as Khare in Nepal during migration. As many as 15.3 birds per hour during October and November have been noted.

The steppe eagle's diet is largely fresh carrion of all kinds, but it will kill rodents and other small mammals up to the size of a hare, and birds up to the size of partridges. It will also steal food from other raptors. Like other species, the steppe eagle has a crop in its throat allowing it to store food for several hours before being moved to the stomach.

Concerns

The paper based on joint research conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Indian Veterinary Research Institute, published in May 2014 in the journal of the Cambridge University Press, highlighted that steppe eagles are adversely affected by veterinary use of diclofenac and may fall prey to it. The research found the same signs of kidney failure as seen in the Gyps vulture killed due to diclofenac. They found extensive visceral gout, lesions and uric acid deposits in the liver, kidney and spleen, as well as deposits of diclofenac residue in tissues. Steppe eagles are opportunistic scavengers, which may expose them to the risk of diclofenac poisoning.

This article uses material from Wikipedia released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike Licence 3.0. Eventual photos shown in this page may or may not be from Wikipedia, please see the license details for photos in photo by-lines.

Videos of Steppe eagle

  • Steppe eagle

    Steppe eagle

  • Steppe eagle (juvenile) - Batumi

    Steppe eagle (juvenile) - Batumi

Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Accipitriformes
Family
Accipitridae
Genus
Aquila
Species
Aquila nipalensis

Common names

  • Thai: นกอินทรีทุ่งหญ้าสเต็ป, nok in-sree thung yaa sa-tep

Synonyms

  • Aquila rapax nipalensis

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Steppe eagle, Aquila nipalensis in Thailand

Range map of Aquila nipalensis in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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