(1746) Aquila chrysaetos daphanea.
THE HIMALAYAN GOLDEN EAGLE.
Aquila daphanea Hodgs. in Gray's Misc., p. 81 (1844) (Nepal). Aquila chrysaetus. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 332.
Vernacular names. Muriari (Chamba).
Description. Loral bristles grey or fulvous, tipped black; anterior crown and sides of the head dark brown; posterior crown, nape and hind-neck golden or tawny-rufous, with dark bases and black shafts; thighs, vent and under wing-coverts rufous-brown and shoulder of wing more or less mottled with same; remainder of plumage dark brown, the bases white or mottled with white which shows through here and there, especially on the scapulars, inner secondaries and upper tail-coverts ; tail dark brown, banded with dark grey except on the terminal quarter.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill dark horny or bluish-horny, black at the tip; cere and eyelids yellow; legs yellow.
Measurements. Wing, 660 to 700 mm., 630 to 655 mm.; tail, 350 to 365 mm., d 315 to 335 mm.; tarsus, 95 to 105 mm., 89 to 95 mm.; culmen, 58 to 60 mm., 53 to 56 mm; hind claw 50 to 60 mm.
Young birds have the whole crown golden-rufous; the feathers are pure white everywhere at the base and show through far more than in the adult; the tail has the basal two-thirds white with a broad black terminal band and some brown on the white next to it.
Distribution. Central Asia to the Himalayas from Afghanistan and Baluchistan to Eastern Assam.
Nidification. This Eagle breeds in the higher mountains of Central Asia and in the Himalayas down to about 10,000 feet. Captain Unwin having found them yet 1,000 feet lower at Thundiani on the Afghan boundary. About Quetta a good many pairs breed in the higher hills, but the nests are difficult to get to in this wild and unsafe country. Capt. C. Williams obtained eggs in February and March, that obtained in the latter month being addled and found in a nest with a fledgling. These nests, as also a pair obtained at 10,000 feet in 1909, were all built on small trees on cliff-faces, enormous structures of sticks conspicuous at a great distance and apparently used for many years in succession. In Altai Zarudny took a pair of eggs on the 12th May from a nest on a ledge of a cliff. These are small very poorly-marked eggs measuring only 71.0 x 55.3 and 71.0 x 50.0 mm. Five other eggs average 78.1 x 60.4 mm., the largest being 78.6 X 61.9 mm. Some eggs are very handsome, well covered with red blotches, and others are dull white with only a few necks and smudges of yellowish-brown.
Habits. The Golden Eagle occurs at all levels from about 7,000 feet, occasionally up to the snow-line, soaring, of course, often far above this again. It is perhaps the most powerful as well as the boldest of the larger birds of prey, living on Snow-cock, Moual and other pheasants, pigeons, young Tahr, Barhel and Musk-Deer It hunts often in pairs and this trait has been taken advantage of by Falconers, who used to train them to hunt gazelles in this manner. When near villages they sometimes become very destructive to lambs and kids but, on the other hand, have been said to sometimes tackle and kill wolves. Hume thought he recognized this Eagle on the Mekran coast and in the Sind Hills.