1202. Aquila bifasciata.
The Steppe Eagle.
Aquila bifasciata*, J. E: Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Zool.i, pl. 17 (1830-32): Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv, p. 5 ; Brooks, P. A. S. B. 1872, p. 65: id. P. Z. S. 1872, p. 503; id. J. A. S. B. xiii, pt. 2, p. 145 ; xliii, pt. 2, p. 239; id. S. F. i, pp. 290, 325; id. Ibis, 1874, p. 86: Anderson, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 621; 1875, .p. 21; 1876, p. 311; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 230; Gurney, Ibis, 1873, p. 99; Dresser, P. Z. S. 1873, p. 514 ; Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 63; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 185. Aquila nipalensis, Hodgson, As. Res. xviii, pt. 2, p. 13, pi. 1 (1833) ; Dresser, Birds of Europe, v, p. 507, pl. 340; Gurney, Ibis, 1877, p. 222; Hume, S. F. vii, pp. 197, 338; x, p. 443; xi, p. 8; id. Cat. no. 27 bis ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 223; Reid, S. F. x, p. 7; Oates, ibid. p. 179 ; Davison, ibid. p. 287 ; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) v, p. 556; vii, p. 374. Aquila orientalis, Cab. J. f. Orn. 1854, p. 369. Aquila imperialis, Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 57, partim; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 142, pt.; nec Bechstein. Aquila amurensis, Swinhoe, P. Z. 8. 1871, p. 338. Aquila mogilnik, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 240; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 25; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 11; nec Gmel.
Jumiz, H.; Woon-lo, Burmese ; Ong yau, Lepcha.
Coloration. Adult. Almost uniform brown, varying from pale greyish brown to deep umber-brown ; there is often a rufous-buff patch on the nape, varying much in size ; quills and larger scapulars blackish brown; tail blackish brown, with traces of greyish cross-bars. This plumage is rare, most birds retaining some immature characteristics, such as buff upper tail-coverts or whitish mottling on the quills.
Young birds also vary in colour, but are paler than adults, some being almost whity brown, more often umber-brown; no nape-patch ; broad white or buff or rufous-buff ends to the secondary quills and to the greater coverts, forming two conspicuous wing-bars ; the primary-coverts and some of the under wing-coverts also with pale tips; all the quills are mottled with grey or whitish towards the base and the secondaries are more or less barred; upper and under tail-coverts buff; tail tipped whitish or buff, sometimes, except the pale tip, uniform brown, in other specimens mottled with grey, so as to be more or less distinctly banded. In some birds there are darker cross-bands and pale tips on the feathers of the back and on the wing-coverts, and sometimes the abdominal feathers have whitish transverse or arrow-head-shaped bands and pale tips.
Bill and claws black; gape, cere, and feet yellow; iris dark brown; eyelids greenish (Oates). The nostrils are rounder than in A. heliaca, but still oval.
Length of a male 30 inches; tail 11.5 ; wing 22; tarsus 4; mid-toe without claw 2.5; bill from gape 2.8. Females are rather larger: tail 12.5 ; wing 23.5.
Distribution. A winter visitor to Northern India, ranging south as far as Khandesh, Seoni, and Raipur; also found at the same season throughout Assam and Burma. Beyond Indian limit, this Eagle is found in Eastern Europe, North-eastern Africa, and in parts of Central Asia, including Mongolia, Southern and Eastern Siberia, and China.
For a long time the two plumages of this Eagle were supposed to be phases of A. heliaca (A. imperialis), and were described as such by Jerdon and Hume. The recognition and separation of A. bifasciata is due to Messrs. Brooks and Anderson.
Habits, &c. Very similar to those of A. heliaca, except that the nest, which has not been observed within Indian limits, is generally placed on the ground.
* This name has been rejected by several ornithologists because of A. bifasciata, Brehm (1831), a name given to the Spotted Eagle. It is, however, doubtful whether Brehm's name is older than Gray's.