(1748) Aquila nipalensis nipalensis.
THE EASTERN STEPPE-EAGLE.
Circaetus nipalensis Hodgs., As. Bes.,xviii (2), p. 13 (1833) (Nepal). Aquila bifasciata. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 336.
Vernacular names. Jumiz (Hind.); Woon-fo (Burm.); Oong au (Lepcha).
Description. Whole plumage brown, varying from greyish-brown to deep umber-brown, bleached and worn birds being very pale.
Wing-quills black or almost so; longest scapulars the same ; in most birds there is a patch of buff feathers centred darker on the nape; tail blackish-brown, tipped paler, possibly immaculate in very old birds but nearly always showing traces of cross-bars of grey-brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel to dark brown; bill black; cere deep yellow; legs and feet dull yellow or greenish-yellow to bright yellow, claws black.
Measurements. Wing, 510 to 595 mm., 602 to 625 mm.; tail 250 to 290 mm.; tarsus 85 to 89 mm.; culmen, 50 to 56 mm., 56 to 58 mm.
A bird shot by Whistler in the Punjab weighed 6 3/4 lbs.
Very few birds are obtained in the above completely adult plumage and some birds, perhaps, never acquire it. In nearly every specimen the tail is more or less strongly barred and mottled, the wing-quills show incipient or stronger bars of mottled grey-brown on the inner quills; secondaries more or less barred with white ; upper and under tail-coverts buff.
Young birds are paler than adults and much more heavily barred and marked. The secondaries and greater coverts have broad tips of buff or whitish forming two well-defined wing-bars ; in some birds, probably those of the year, the upper feathers have obscure dark bars and pale tips to the feathers of the upper plumage and occasionally the feathers of the breast and abdomen are marked with streaks or arrow-heads of dark brown.
Distribution. Central Asia, N. China, Mongolia, S.E. Siberia to N. W. India. In Winter to South China, India and N. E. Africa. At this season it wanders as far South as North Travancore (Stewart), Raipur in the Central Provinces and South Orissa (Annandale). It also occurs, but not commonly, in Assam and Surma.
Nidification. The only eggs I have seen of this Eagle were taken on the 5th December at Hansapur in Quzerat. They measure 67.6 x 55.0, 69.4 x 56.1 and 67.0 x 53.0 mm. One egg is practically pure white, one very faintly spotted and one fairly well marked with light brown. The nest was said to have been on a small tree.
Habits. Very similar to those of the Imperial Eagle. Davison found in Burma that this Eagle kept much to quite open country, perching on the tops of large single trees and never allowing the close approach of human beings.