Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) in north-east Algeria

By MaghrebOrnitho | 22 July 2018

This large eagle was photographed this week in north-east Algeria by Mourad Harzallah (a very good naturalist and a local ecotourism guide). The photographer said the eagle was much bigger than the Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata), and some of the photos below also attest this.

Several people in a FB group suggested that it’s a Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax), while others were hesitant to name it. The latter group was concerned especially by the fact that young Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aquila adalberti) look similar to the Tawny Eagle. They also mentioned that some old records of Tawny Eagle in southern Morocco may have been, in fact, Spanish Imperial Eagles. Indeed, the the Moroccan Rare Bird Committee re-analysed some old records of Tawny Eagle in 2016, and as one may expect, they were not accepted. For details and more see: Status of Tawny Eagle in Morocco and vagrancy from sub-Saharan Africa. The overall status of the species in Algeria is very similar to its status in Morocco.

Let’s call this bird a Tawny Eagle for the rest of the text. Every comment is welcome, either to confirm the ID or otherwise. Thanks!. Edit: according to the photographer, the bird was confirmed as a Tawny Eagle.

The Tawny Eagle was perched on a dead tree when a Bonelli’s Eagle tried to harass it. Although the Tawny Eagle tried to show to the harassing bird who is the ‘boss’ (aggressiveness shown in photo 6), it nevertheless flew away from its perch. At this point, we can assume that there is no real winner or loser in this little fight between these two magnificent raptors.

Thanks to Mourad for capturing this beautiful encounter. Local birder Aimene Boulaouad was present as well. Connect with Mourad through his FB page: Mourad Harzallah – Naturaliste.

p.s.

Satellite tracking showed that at least some Spanish Imperial Eagles that winter in Morocco do cross to western Algeria as well (2 birds in winter 2015/2016 and one bird in 2017/2018). See:

Spanish Imperial Eagle: recovering space beyond borders (with some maps).

Migration of the Spanish Imperial Eagle to Africa in 2017

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah)

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

Tawny Eagle / Aigle ravisseur (Aquila rapax), north-east Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

A Bonelli's Eagle harassing the Tawny Eagle / Un Aigle de Bonelli harcelant l'Aigle ravisseur, NE Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

A Bonelli’s Eagle harassing the Tawny Eagle / Un Aigle de Bonelli harcelant l’Aigle ravisseur, NE Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

The Bonelli's Eagle continued to harass the Tawny Eagle in flight / L'Aigle de Bonelli a continué à harceler l'Aigle ravisseur en vol, NE Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

The Bonelli’s Eagle continued to harass the Tawny Eagle in flight / L’Aigle de Bonelli a continué à harceler l’Aigle ravisseur en vol, NE Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

The ‘fight’ is almost over between the two eagles / Le ‘combat’ est presque fini entre les deux aigles, NE Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

The ‘fight’ is almost over between the two eagles / Le ‘combat’ est presque fini entre les deux aigles, NE Algeria, 17 July 2018 (Mourad Harzallah).

2 thoughts on “Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) in north-east Algeria

  1. Iain Robertson

    I think that it is a Tawny, but not 100%. Once saw an adult Tawny Eagle stoop and take out a Cattle Egret in S Maroc, no details, all notes lost over the years. It was so long ago that we also watched a pair of Demoiselle Cranes chase a Red Fox out of their territory.

    Reply
    1. MaghrebOrnitho Post author

      Thanks Iain for your comment! I thought so too, but it’s difficult to be 100% sure.

      Although birding in Morocco is still interesting; back then, it must have been even more interesting. Just in the last half a century we lost many species (Demoiselle Crane, Helmeted Guineafowl,…), some of them represented by distinct subspecies. Unfortunately other species are heading to extinction too (and probably some of them already gone), such as: Slender-billed Curlew, Tawny Eagle, Dark Chanting Goshawk,…).

      Mohamed

      Reply

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