(1750) Aquila clanga.
THE Greater SPOTTED EAGLE.
Aquila clanga Pall., Zoog. Hosso-Asiat, i, p. 351 (1827) (Russia and Siberia). Aquila maculata. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 340.
Vernacular names. Kaljanga (Hind.); Bakayari Jiyadha (Beng.); Fella gedha (Tel.).
Description. Whole plumage dark chocolate-brown, the feathers of the head and nape tipped paler and making these parts look lighter ; wing-quills blackish, the inner secondaries like the back ; tail blackish-brown, generally more or less tipped paler ; the bases of the body-feathers are everywhere white, showing through here and there and especially on the upper and under tail-coverts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill slaty-blue or bluish-plumbeous, black at the tip and paler next the gape ; cere yellow ; legs and feet dull yellow. Nostrils large and round.
Measurements. wing 486 to 501 mm.; tail 240 to 260 mm.; tarsus 103 to 106 mm.; culmen 45 to 50 mm. wing 542 to 565 mm.; tail 250 to 276 mm.; culmen 48 to 52 mm.
Younger birds have the pale tips to the head-feathers more pronounced and also often have pale shaft-streaks on the feathers of the head and nape; the inner secondaries show more pale or white mottling and the upper tail-coverts are often more white than brown.
Still younger birds have the feathers of the upper back with small pale tips becoming much larger on the scapulars, often occupying most of the larger scapulars; the lesser and median wing-coverts are pale-tipped and the greater coverts, primary coverts and outer secondaries have broad mottled fulvous and whitish tips; the pale tips to the tail-feathers are much broader than in the adults; the upper and lower tail-coverts are mostly white. In the youngest specimens the whole of the lower parts are streaked with pale buff and the vent and middle of the abdomen are dull pale buffy-brown.
Distribution. South and South-East Europe East to Turkestan, South Siberia and Northern China; South to North-West India. In Winter South to the greater part of India and Burma but not to Ceylon or South of Tenasserim. It is also found in Northern Africa during the Winter.
Nidification. In India the Greater Spotted Eagle breeds in the wetter, well-wooded portions of the North-West and Central India. Hume also records it as breeding in Sind, wherever there are lakes or canals but this is not confirmed by Ticehurst or Bulkley. The nests are large structures of branches usually placed high up in tall trees, which may be either solitary or in clumps or groves. In India it seems to lay one egg only or occasionally two ; sometimes these are pure white or very faintly blotched and spotted with light yellowish-brown or reddish, at other times they are well marked with numerous small blotches of light reddish-brown. In Europe they generally lay three eggs. Seventy eggs (including 54 Jourdain) average 68.3 x 54.1 mm.: maxima 74.6 X 55.6 and 74.4 x 58.0 mm.; minima 64.5 X 52.2 and 67.2 x 51.2 mm. Over most of the North-West this Eagle breeds from May to June but Rattray took one slightly incubated egg on the 8th March at Shikarpore and Davidson took one in Khandesh on 20th February very hard-set.
Habits. This Eagle is a frequenter of well-wooded country round swamps, lakes and rivers and even when found in the drier districts of Rajputana and Sind they will only be found near water. Their food consists in great part of frogs and they frequently also catch fish. In addition, they kill birds and small mammals and will often carry off wounded ducks and other game. It is a rather sluggish Eagle, often sitting for hours on a perch on some lofty tree and thence sailing slowly over the marshes in its search for food.