Cannibalism in Steppe/Tawny Eagle?

on 26th December 2010

Willis’ image of an eagle feasting on the carcass of another eagle was photographed in the African plains of Kenya in October 2010 (above).

According to Willis, “I always have a hard time telling a Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) from a Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)… wikipedia says Steppe Eagle was once considered to be closely related to Tawny Eagle and the two forms have previously been treated as conspecific. They were split later based on pronounced differences in morphology and anatomy.”

“As Steppe Eagles are migrants to Kenya while the Tawnys are residents, the image could be one of these combination: tawny feeding on tawny; tawny feeding on steppe; steppe feeding on steppe; steppe feeding on tawny; or none of the above,” wrote Willis.

According to Willis, the guide thought it was a Tawny Eagle feeding on the carcass. How the dead eagle died was not observed.

These eagles feed on a wide range of mammals, birds and reptiles. They also feed on insects and occasionally amphibians and fish. They regularly take carrion.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

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