“A great eagle with great wings”*

Compared to the Broad-winged Hawk of Maine, the Tawny Eagle of Ethiopia, Aquila rapax,  is of an altogether fiercer order, as his name suggests. His wingspan, at 190cm, is almost twice that of the broadwing, and at up to 3Kg he weighs about six times as much. I rather like his warm feathered breeches.

Tawny Eagle

He feeds on rabbits and other small mammals, lizards and insects, which he catches with his rapacious talons (visible above if you look carefully). He is also an opportunist, not above feasting on the carcase of a dead goat, and in fact carrion is a large part of his diet:

Tawny Eagle, on goat carcase

The Black-chested Snake Eagle, Circaetus pectoralis,  is a tad smaller, and highly specialized:

Black-chested Snake Eagle



Snakes are his preferred food, and he hovers before diving onto his prey (he is claimed to be the only eagle that hovers). During courtship, a pair will feed each other snakes in mid-air, something I would dearly love to see.

My last photo is aa juvenile African Fish Eagle (thanks to Ian for the ID), but even as a teenager it shows the power of those wings that inspired the poets: *A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar:” Ezekiel 17:3


I’ve just realized I have referred to all my eagles by means of male pronouns: unconscious bias pops up in the oddest places. To keep things real, I have not corrected my prose, but I am clearly not woke yet.

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