Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tawny Eagles

Tawny Eagles derive their name from the color of their feathers, a subtle rusty brown. 
Juvenile Tawny Eagle (photo: the wikipedia files)

They can be found in eastern and southern Africa but also in southern Asia.  They are scavengers, mostly eating things that are already dead.  However, they have been seen catching prey up to the size of large rabbits.  They also often steal food from other birds, such as storks and hornbills. 
Tawny Eagle feeding on roadkill (photo: the wikipedia files)

Tawny Eagles are smaller than most old-world vulture species, and eat the same food.  Often times the vultures will find carrion first.  Tawny Eagles will wait for the vultures to eat, and then drive them away by repeatedly flying and “barking” at them (their call does sound like a dog barking).  Once the vultures are scared, they will vomit to be light enough to fly away.  Tawny Eagles then use this opportunity to devour the vomit as a warm “fresh” meal. 

During the dry season in Africa they build very large flat nests for raising their young.  This nest will be used for many years.  They usually lay two eggs, which take a little over a month to hatch.  Usually only one of the chicks survives. 

In the wild, a Tawny Eagle will live for upwards of sixteen years.  In captivity we can usually about double their lifespan. 
Diablo - Watch for him in Milwaukee next summer (photo: Gay Schroer)

Max and Diablo, the two Tawny Eagles here at the World Bird Sanctuary, were raised in captivity for educational purposes.  You can usually find Max in the weathering area behind the visitors’ center if he is not traveling to one of out outreach programs in the area.  Diablo can be seen at the Milwaukee County Zoo during the summers flying in our Bird of Prey shows.

In the wild Tawny Eagles are a common sight, and are listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. At this time the species seems to be doing well and there are no specific conservation efforts for them.
Max is one of the most photogenic birds at WBS (photo: Gay Schroer)

The next time you visit the World Bird Sanctuary look for Max in the weathering area.  You may get lucky enough to see him playing with his tennis balls or hear him barking at someone or something he perceives to be a threat within his territorial boundaries. 

And don’t let the plain brown feathers fool you…Tawny Eagles are one of the most photogenic birds at WBS.  Be sure to bring your cameras. 

As with all our animals, Max and Diablo are available for adoption as part of our Adopt A Bird Program.

Submitted by Mike Cerutti, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

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