A species of dry, open woodlands, savannas and semi-deserts, Tawny Eagles have a very wide prey base; hunting anything from amphibians to mammals up to the size of rabbits and young warthogs, and regularly feeding on roadkill or carrion or food stolen from other birds of prey. Tawny Eagles have a wingspan of up to 2m, and weigh up to 3kg.
These large eagles are mostly seen alone or in pairs as they are territorial and resident year-round. They breed on large nests built of sticks and bones on top of isolated trees or utility pylons. They’ll also take over the similarly constructed nests of other large birds like storks and vultures. In South Africa most pairs breed in winter. Clutches contain 1 – 3 eggs and is mainly incubated by the female for a month-and-a-half. For the first few days after hatching the female broods the chicks and the male brings back food to the nest for both her and the chicks. The chicks take their first flight at about 12 weeks old and remain with the parents for another 6 weeks or so thereafter.
Although the Tawny Eagle is still listed as “least concern”, the IUCN notes that its populations are declining over much of its African range, possibly due to persecution through poisoned carcasses and deliberate shooting. The largest part of the population occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa (with the exception of the equatorial forests and southern South Africa) and on the Indian subcontinent, with smaller populations in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In South Africa, where they are considered vulnerable, Tawny Eagles are commonly encountered in the north of Kwazulu-Natal, the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo (where there is an estimated 670 in the Kruger National Park), the Limpopo Valley and the Kgalagadi Tranfrontier Park, but seldom elsewhere, indicating that its populations in this country are now mostly confined to major conservation areas, as with many other large raptors.