Encounter with the Greater Spotted Eagle in Penang, Malaysia

posted in: Raptors | 0

Tan Choo Eng from Penang, Malaysia wrote in on 12th February 2007 after reading an earlier posting on an eagle attacking a kite’s nest. Choo Eng and a few friends spotted an eagle at the Permatang Pauh ricefields on 3rd February and was wondering whether it could be the same eagle. Thought the bird was a Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), they also misidentified it earlier as a Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis). According to Choo Eng, the Singapore bird is a juvenile but the Penang bird looks like an adult. It needs a more experienced birder to settle the issue.

This is Choo Eng’s story: “On 3rd February 2007 around mid-noon while with another three birders from Kuala Lumpur, we spotted this big dark eagle perching around a just harvested rice field. We managed to observe and photograph it (above).

“It was being harassed by an unidentified raptor, probably a marsh harrier (right).

“On a subsequent visit I saw it swooping down and killing a rat with it’s talons (below).

“A pair of White Bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) attempted to steal it’s rat but was scared away by the huge eagle.

“A single crow similarly attempted to steal it’s rat (below left).

“Later the eagle managed to swallow the rat after tearing it apart with its beak and talons (below right).


“The eagle will usually hunt during mid-afternoon and other raptors will attempt to harass it but to no avail. The Greater Spotted Eagle is a rather uncommon visitors to mainland Penang. Could the eagle from Singapore from the earlier post be the one at Permatang Pauh ricefields?”

This is an interesting question that is not easy to answer. We need someone to first settle the question of whether the eagle in the earlier post is the same species as this eagle. Then whether they are actually a juvenile and an adult. If not, then the intriguing question of whether they are the same bird can be debated.

Input and images by Tan Choo Eng.

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