Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle


Profile Steppe Eagle
[order] Falconiformes |

[order] Falconiformes | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Aquila nipalensis | [UK] Steppe Eagle | [FR] Aigle des steppes | [DE] Steppenadler | [ES] Aguila nipalense | [IT] Aquila delle steppe | [NL] Steppearend

Steppearend determination

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Size and form close to Imperial Eagle but bill smaller, while shape of extended wing differs in shorter inner primaries and hence more bulging secondaries. Plumage basically dark brown, somewhat paler below especially on throat; flight and tail feathers normally grey and barred overall unlike Imperial Eagle. Lacks pale nape, but often pale patch on back and on bases of primaries. Yellow gape extends backwards to point below all of eye. Juvenile noticeably paler than adult, with upper wing and tail base patterns recalling Imperial Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Spotted Eagle but distinguished from all by striking whitish band on largest under wing-coverts (prominent until 2nd or 3rd year).
Although powerful, shares flight attitudes and action, often somewhat ragged look, and piratical behaviour with Tawny Eagle. Separation from Imperial Eagle incompletely studied but tail pattern may also be helpful, apparently always evenly barred in Steppe Eagle but with broad black terminal band at least on adult Imperial Eagle.

Steppe and semi-desert. Race nipalensis breeds in mountainous areas, orientalis breeds in lowlands and low hills.

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.

Mainly small to medium-sized rodents, on breeding grounds almost exclusively susliks, and hatching coincides with emergence of their young; in addition hares, reptiles, birds, and young saiga antelopes, also scavenging on dead adults, afterbirths, etc. On migration and in winter quarters commonly gathers in large numbers (particularly immatures) in arable fields to take disturbed vertebrates and large insects, or at other concentrations of prey species, such as termites and queleas, carrion, or refuse, and will gather at carrion on breeding grounds. Frequently forages by walking on ground but also hunts from perch or by soaring, and pirates food from other birds, especially raptors, though to a lesser extent than Tawny Eagle.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 100,000-1,000,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001). Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001), but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]

In Russia, eggs laid April-July, mainly late April-May, timing dependent on prey species populations. Timing of arrival in spring and start of breeding highly dependent on availability of chief prey species.
On ground, on slight rise like sand-dune, etc., on old haystack, low bush, or ruin; increasingly on cliffs, trees, or electricity poles because of persecution. Nest: large platform of branches, twigs, and bones lined with grass, hair, dung, and pellets, 70-130 cm in diameter.
1-3 eggs, incubation 45 days, Chicks have white down after hatching, later greyish white.

Race orientalis completely migratory, leaving breeding areas in late August and Septebmber; avoiding crossing sea, with large concentrations observed in bottleneck areas, e.g. Israel and Suez. Winters in Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, East & South Africa. Race nipalensis less migratory, wintering mostly in South Asia.


  1. Measurements
  2. spanwidth min.: 180 cm
  3. spanwidth max.: 230 cm
  4. size min.: 67 cm
  5. size max.: 86 cm
  6. Breeding
  7. incubation min.: 42 days
  8. incubation max.: 47 days
  9. fledging min.: 55 days
  10. fledging max.: 65 days
  11. broods 1
  12. eggs min.: 1
  13. eggs max.: 2
  14. Conservation Status
  15. Steppearend status Least Concern
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