The Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) is a large bird of prey belonging to the family Accipitridae. It is roughly 62-74 cm in length and has a wingspan of 165-190cm. 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. DNA studies have now shown that these birds are not even each other’s nearest relatives.
The Steppe Eagle can be found 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.
The Steppe Eagle’s preferred breeding habitat includes open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, or savannah.
This large eagle sports 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.
Juveniles are less contrasted than adults, but both show a range of variation in plumage color. The eastern race (A. n. nipalensis) is larger and darker than the European and Central Asian (A. n. orientalis).
The main part of the Steppe Eagle’s diet is fresh carrion of all kinds. It will, however, kill rodents and other small mammals up to the size of a rabbit, and birds up to the size of partridges. It will also steal food from other raptors.
The call of the Steppe Eagle is a crow-like barking, but it is rather a silent bird except in display.