1747. Aquila heliaea heliaea

(1747) Aquila heliaca heliaca Savigny.
Aquila heliaca, heliaca, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed, vol. v, p. 69.
The Imperial Eagle breeds from South Russia and the Balkan countries to Western Asia and Turkestan. Within our limits it has frequently been recorded nesting in various places in the Himalayas and Northern India, but many of these records are very doubtful, other Eagles, especially Aquila rapax vindhiana, having been mistaken for the present bird.
Donald, who knows the Indian Raptores probably better than any other man, alive or dead, writes (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxvi, p. 637, 1919):—“The Imperial Eagle is said to breed freely in the plains of India and in the Himalayas, though it is generally said to be only a winter visitor to this country. Mr. Hume found them breeding in the Upper Punjab, and Mr. Blewitt took a nest in Hansi which undoubtedly was that of the Imperial Eagle, as the female, an adult in the dark plumage, was shot on the nest.”
On p. 638 he adds :—“In over 20 years spent in the Himalayas I have never once seen this bird after about May or before September, and will remain very sceptical about its breeding in the bills, even though stragglers may remain to do so in the plains.”
Hume thus describes the nests taken by himself in the Punjab on three occasions;—“ They lay in February and March, and possibly April ; building a large stick platform on or near the tops of trees— peepul-trees in all the instances in which I found the nest. The nests that I saw were from 2 to 2-5 feet in diameter, and some 5 to 8 inches thick, composed of rather small sticks and lined with a few green leaves. One nest contained two hard-set, another three fresh eggs, and the third only one.”
Blewitt’s nest, referred to by Donald, wag described as “very dense and compact, 7 inches thick by only 18 in diameter ; composed entirely of keekur (Acacia arabica) and without lining. The nest was placed on the top of a keekur-tree, some 18 feet from the ground, and contained two fresh eggs.”
Since Hume’s time the only authentic eggs I know of are two taken in Kashmir on the 3rd April by “mountaineer” (F. Wilson) ; two taken by Col. K. Buchanan near Debra Ismail Khan on 26th November, and one taken by Rattray some 20 miles North of Jhelum Cantonments on the 12th April, the female. bird being Shot off the nest for purposes of identification. The nest taken by Buchanan was a “huge mass of sticks built on a large tree growing in a gorge” ; that taken by Rattray was “a large stick nest in a tree about 30 feet high near river at about 1,000 feet elevation.”
In addition to the above I have an egg in my collection which comes from Harrington Bulkley, marked in his handwriting, which was said bo have been taken in the “Baluchistan-Sind Hills.” This egg was taken on the 19th December and matches many European eggs of this species.
In Europe two eggs seems to be the normal full clutch and rarely three, while in India, though two are sometimes laid, one egg only is also frequently incubated.
IN shape the eggs are generally rather broad ovals, Jess often long and definitely pointed ovals ; the texture is coarse and rather rough.
The ground is a dull white, and typically the surface is very scantily spotted and Notched with very pale lavender-grey. In a few eggs the blotches are bolder and darker and, in still fewer, are tinged with reddish or brownish, I have seen no eggs, European or Indian, which could be called handsome, but I have one pair and a single egg which are freely smudged and spotted with reddish- brown. Pure white eggs are rare and, as a series, they are slightly better marked than those of the Indian Tawny Eagle.
Eight Indian eggs average 70.9 x 54.6 mm. : maxima 76.4 x 57.4 mm. ; minima 66.0 x 51.1 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 4. 1935.
Title in Book: 
1747. Aquila heliaea heliaea
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Imperial Eagle
Eastern Imperial Eagle
Aquila heliaca
Vol. 4
Term name: 

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