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Tawny Eagle

Tawny Eagle
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-22
Categories: Birds
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 250
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/125 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger NP 2009
Date Submitted: 2010-06-21 13:19
Viewed: 4946
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 68
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Tawny eagle / Aquila rapax

The Tawny eagle is the 21st in the series of the birds of the Kruger National Park, which I am currently sharing. Enjoy!

Perhaps some of the images of the birds I photographed, whilst on vacation in the Kruger, are not even close to "professional quality", but my intent to share this series of our feathered friends goes beyond such professional perfection. I don't want to skip a specific image just because maybe the standard or technical quality is not as good as some of you might think it aught to be and in doing so let you loose out on some of the beautiful birds found in the Kruger. After all the aim of the site is to learn about nature through photography.

This Tawny eagle was having its supper in a large tree alongside the main road, near Lower Sabie camp and we stopped right next to it. It was very close so we had a clear view of this big raptor. The bird was busy eating what appeared to look like a Spurfowl, judging by the runners and the size of the prey that was lying on the thick branch on which the eagle was sitting. A second eagle suddenly appeared from nowhere and sat beside the first one. It caught us somewhat by surprise, but on the photo you can actually see it landing next to the other bird. We didn't have much time to photograph the two birds as the next moment the visitor suddenly grabbed hold of the prey and simply flew away. We could hardly believe the blatant robbery that we just witnessed, but if ever I saw a surprised bird which couldn't believe its bad luck, it was that day next to the road, on our way to Lower Sabie. There is never a dull moment in this wonderful place called the Kruger National Park.

Physical description
Common and widespread, the tawny eagle is a relatively large, handsome bird of prey, with heavily feathered legs. The plumage is generally tawny to rusty brown in colour, often with dark markings on the wings, especially the flight-feathers. Three subspecies are currently recognised, which occupy different geographical regions, and vary slightly in size, markings and colouration. During its first year, the immature tawny eagle’s plumage is much paler than the adults, often whitish, especially on the under parts.

There are two African tawny eagle subspecies, Aquila rapax rapax, which can be found throughout southern Africa, as well as south-eastern parts of Central Africa, and Aquila rapax belisarius, which is found in Morocco, Algeria, much of tropical Africa between the Sahara and the equator, and also southern Arabia. In Asia, the subspecies Aquila rapax vindhiana occupies much of India, Pakistan and southern Nepal as well as parts of Myanmar and Vietnam.

Throughout its wide range the tawny eagle may be found in a variety of habitats, but principally open savannah and arid steppe. It is absent from forests and areas of true desert.

The tawny eagle is most frequently seen soaring high in the air or perched at the top of a tree, scanning the ground for prey. A formidable hunter, the tawny eagle will tackle mammals as large as hares, as well as sizeable birds and lizards, which it catches by making a rapid dive from its perch or during flight, seizing the animal in its powerful talons. When available, this species will also exploit a variety of other food sources such as carrion, insects, amphibians and fish, and frequently steals food from other birds, such as storks, raptors and ground-hornbills.

The tawny eagle's breeding season varies according to location, but most commonly occurs in the dry season. Courtship consists of aerial displays, during which this normally silent species makes a series of noisy croaks and grunts. After mating, a large, flat nest is constructed from sticks lined with grass and leaves, usually at the top of a thorny tree or very occasionally on a power pylon. A clutch of two eggs is laid, which hatch after around 39-44 days. During the early stages of the 77-84 day fledging period, while the chicks are still small, the eldest chick may kill the younger sibling. A single nest may be used repeatedly for many years, so long as the crown of the tree remains unaltered. Tawny eagles have a relatively long lifespan, reaching up to 16 years.

There are currently no specific conservation measures in place for the Tawny eagle. Throughout its extensive range this species can be found in a number of protected areas, including several large national parks such as Kruger National Park in South Africa.


I hope you enjoy looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

siggi, sandpiper2, PeterZ, Alex99, nagraj, PaulH, Sascha-Steinau, maurydv, anel, Noisette, cirano, mamcg, marhowie, ramthakur, pierrefonds, greghume, Mikolaj, boreocypriensis has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
Animal Behaviouringridshaul 1 06-22 09:57
TO ANNAmarius-secan 1 06-21 21:22
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2010-06-21 13:31]

Hello Anna,
What a superb close photo! Fantastic action moment. Good sharpness, natural colours and composition. Excellent POV. Beautiful environment.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-06-21 13:38]

Hello Anna,
what a lovely shot of this two Tawny eagle, lovely composition , nice pov, sharp image with good details,well done,
Best regards Siggi

Hola Anna

Vaya una nueva super imagen de estas dos rapaces y una de ellas con las alas abiertas. Verdaderos cazadores y preciosos.

Una toma excelente, y bien configurada, buen POV.

Un saludo de Antonio

Hi Anna

Great moment and note and I agree with your opening sentiments, this site is just as much about sharing great moments in nature like this as producing high quality images with very expensive equipment.
I can almost see the expression of surprise on the first bird, well done, it’s a great composition with good sharpness and action. TFS


  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2010-06-21 15:51]

Hi Anna,not only a eagle pic but a very great composition full of elements and colors.Great moment to take and a very beautiful specie.Thanks for share,have a nice day,LUCIANO

Wow Anna! Those eagles are beautiful! Great job!!

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2010-06-21 21:05]

Hi Anna.
I would be happy to meet these beautiful birds in a wild and take so nice naturally looking shot. Despite the contrast subject shot is exposure perfectly. Details are also excellent and timing is precise. TFS and all the best.

Hello Anna,
Exceptional clarity and details. Outstanding composition with great POV and excellent background.
Perfect focus and razor sharp details.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-06-21 22:09]

Hello Anna,
A fine capture of a juvenile Tawny Eagle waiting to be fed by its parent. Your timing shows the typical colouring of the raised wing of the juvenile.
The sharpness and colours are excellent and I like the POV that includes the thick gnarled tree limb.
I have not seen this species on TN before.

Thanks and best regards,

My kinda photo, nature in action! Well done, Anna. I love the sharpness as well as the glint in the eye, you got the picture just at the right moment. A worthy addition to your bird collection.

  • Great 
  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2010-06-22 1:18]

Every nature image needed not to be high quality professional work, the content is more important. Its not possible to do everytime, here I liked the story very much. tfs.

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2010-06-22 2:27]

Hi Anne,
a great documentative shot of an amazing looking creature. I've never heard of a Tawny Eagle, only a Tawny Owl, which we have here in the UK. I don't think the quality of this is as bad as you think it is! I think you did well to get such detail on what looks like an overcast day. Great Shot Anna :o)

Hi Anna!

I love that picture, it is so fantastic and with high quality! I would say perfect!

Many thanks for sharing!


Ciao Anna, great catpture of splendid couple of superb eagles, wonderful natural ambientation, fine details and excellent sharpness, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

My dear Friend,
I am absolutely delighted to to be able to study this interesting scene of Animal Behaviour!

We are really lucky to live in such a beautiful country with wonderful opportunities of observing animals in the wild!!

It is wonderful, that you grabbed the opportunity of a perfect Photo-Story when the Eagle grabbed the other animal's dinner.

I am not surprised you love your camera: The relatively long exposure left the wing of the robber slightly blurred thus underlining the speed at which the robbery happened - contrasting with the sharp details of the deliquent's staring,greedy eyes concentrating on the food he is about to steal.

Generally, I personally prefer less high speed for Action Photos! The ''frozen'' images - as the expression indicates - appear frozen and really good photos of for instance racing Formula One cars are always slightly blurred in order to transmit the high speed.

I REALLY think - not because I am your friend - that this is an excetionally good image, and I wish some Wildlife Magazine Photographers could see and learn from you.

I add your work to my list of Favorite Photos.

Have a nice evening, and I hope less cold!

Hallo Anna,
what a fantastic picture, you captured this scene with great timing and superb sharpness, splendid natural colours, excellent POV and composition.
Best regards

Hi Anna,
this is a wonderful action shot and also interesting to see these mighty birds together so close with the opened wings.
Amazing moment with very good sharpness, thanks, I like it very much.
Warm regards
Sabine - wishnugaruda

Geia sou Anna
great picture of splendid couple of superb eagles , fine details and excellent sharpness, very well done work.
Filika Giorgos

Hi anna,
Perfect information, adorned with wonderful photographs,
exquisite timing,
type of emergency.
I congratulate you.

Me hiciste unos comentarios muy buenos jajaja, eso siempre es de agradecer.

Tu toma es especial y tiene mucha fuerza. A pesar del ángulo tan bajo empleado, no se nota mucho el efecto que se produce por ello. Buena disposición de los elementos., buen fondo y como te dije, mucha fuerza, sobre todo por los colores. Estupendo trabajo Anna.

Un abrazo: Josep Ignasi.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2010-06-24 2:23]

Hello Anna,
A kind of vivid and natural picture I like very much. Here the subject is so interesting that technical perfection doesn't matter. Interesting note too and I like that you explain the circumstances and in which you have taken the shot and the story behind. Very well seen.
Kind regards

Hallo Anna,

an incredible shot.
food and struggle for survival with the most simple case will be presented with this motion.
To share these great birds of prey without a fight seems to know.
In this way, but we are not all people.
A wonderful display of nature. TFS.

Best Regards

Hello Anna
yes, you are right, the most important thing on TN is the subjects and this two tawny eagles are superb subjects, especially the one with the wings open is very impressive, the sharpness are good enough to see very fine details on the plumage and head of the birds, to see this birds in the wilde must be a great moment
Have a good night

  • Great 
  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2010-06-24 18:05]

Hello Anna
Interesting and amazing shot, with good colors and clear details. The composition is amazing. Wondrful sharpness.
Well done

Ciao Anna. Great dramatica capture here in bright colours and very good sharp.


Hi Anna,
Great capture of these eagles, well exposed showing intense details of both birds as well as the intersting bark textures.What a privelage to have experienced this scene.
Thanx for the interesting and comprehensive note.
Regards to all.

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-06-25 2:56]

Hello Anna,
full capture of these lovely eagles. the brown colours are realy beautiful. You managed it so well and the eye is very sharp.
This must be very interesting to go so bear and able to witness this mighty predator. The texture of the tree bark also give a complementary beauty in making this composition so pleasant.
Well composed and well thought presentation.


NB: I like your retrospective description of childhood in relation to the caterpillar shot.

  • Great 
  • cirano Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 997 W: 0 N: 944] (13609)
  • [2010-06-25 13:15]

Hello Anna,
What a great composition,excellent details and nice natural colors.TFS and best regards,

  • Great 
  • mamcg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 333 W: 13 N: 91] (9843)
  • [2010-06-26 20:27]

Salaam Ana,
You quote I photographed, whilst on vacation in the Kruger, are not even close to "professional quality", but I say it is much close to professional quality as you describe in you NOTE it helps much to understand the situation, beautiful and the colours with sharpness are amazing well done, TFS.


Wow, what a great shot of the two dining Anna, it's wonderful..
Wish I could be so lucky :)
Have a great Sunday,

A poignant moment captured with skill and presence of mind, Anna. The "robber" Eagle, as it lands next to the original raptor, looks every bit hell-bent on mischief. It is there in those eyes. That it succeeded in its mission only goes to prove how gullible the other fellow must have been like many of us in our human situations.
It is a classy shot of wilderness as it really exists in a place like Kruger National Park. The position of robber bird's wings at the moment of landing makes it a great action shot too.
Your series has, indeed, been a delight to watch.
Warm regards.

Hi Anna,

The trees are framing well the birds. The point of view is showing the details and colors of the Tawny Eagles. It is clear and sharp. The afternoon light is bringing out the colors. Have a nice day.


Hello Anna,
I think many photographers live for moments like these where we can see unusual behaviors. Your choice of speed was fast enough to freeze the heads and bodies while allowing the flapping wings to reveal the real "action" of the scene.

Hello Anna! Amazing eagles. Dangerous birds. Dynamic scene. Good dynamic exposure. Great effect. Fantastic shot. Well done!

Hi Anna,

A superb action capture of the two eagles. Good choice of shutter speed to freeze their movement giving a partial motion effect, and aperture to yield enough DOF to keep both sharp. I like the way they are positioned in the frame and their tight formation. Very impressive!
TFS and have a nice night!


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