Brown eagles
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Tawny Eagle L: 65–75 cm (26–30") |WS: 160–190 cm (63–75") This eagle can sometimes be identified solely by its combination of pale buffy coloration and large size . However, it is a variable species, and some individuals are dark brown, leading to confusion with summer migrant eagles that have brown plumage . It glides on flat or arched wings and is told from the larger Steppe Eagle by having a shorter gape that reaches to just below the centre of the pale eye, and from the rarer Lesser Spotted Eagle (not illustrated) by having puffy (rather than thin) ‘leggings’ . The Tawny Eagle is one of the commonest resident eagles in Kruger, with a population of more than 500 pairs . It scavenges, steals food from other predators, and preys on small vertebrates . Steppe Eagle L: 70–84 cm (28–33") |WS: 165–215 cm (65–85") The Steppe Eagle is slightly larger than the Tawny Eagle, and never as pale as most adults . It also has a longer gape that extends to below the back of the dark eye, giving the bird a ‘grinning’ appearance . Immatures, which are more common than adults in Kruger, show a diagnostic white band along the middle of the underwing . This is an uncommon, nonbreeding , late spring and summer (October–April) visitor to Kruger and feeds in much the same way as Tawny Eagle . Wahlberg’s Eagle L: 53–61cm (21–24") |WS: 130–146 cm (51–57") This is Kruger’s smallest brown eagle, with a comparatively smaller head and weaker bill than the larger brown eagles, and a distinct short crest that gives the head a squared-off appearance . In flight it has a distinctive shape: almost like a crucifix, with straight-edged wings and a long, straight-edged tail that is generally held closed . Although pale (below) and intermediate morphs do occur, individuals with chocolate-brown plumage are most frequent . This species is a common intra-African migrant, with hundreds of pairs breeding in Kruger (between August and April) . It hunts a broad range of vertebrate and insect prey, both from perches and on the wing, and has been known to kill competitors such as goshawks and owls . EN Brown eagles larger birds of prey in flight – pages 178–179 186 BIRDS OF PREY AND VULTURES tawny eagle steppe eagle 187 ...