This large eagle was photographed this week in north-east Algeria by Mourad Harzallah (a very good naturalist and a local ecotourism guide). The photographer said the eagle was much bigger than the Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata), and some of the photos below also attest this.
Several people in a FB group suggested that it’s a Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax), while others were hesitant to name it. The latter group was concerned especially by the fact that young Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aquila adalberti) look similar to the Tawny Eagle. They also mentioned that some old records of Tawny Eagle in southern Morocco may have been, in fact, Spanish Imperial Eagles. Indeed, the the Moroccan Rare Bird Committee re-analysed some old records of Tawny Eagle in 2016, and as one may expect, they were not accepted. For details and more see: Status of Tawny Eagle in Morocco and vagrancy from sub-Saharan Africa. The overall status of the species in Algeria is very similar to its status in Morocco.
Let’s call this bird a Tawny Eagle for the rest of the text. Every comment is welcome, either to confirm the ID or otherwise. Thanks!. Edit: according to the photographer, the bird was confirmed as a Tawny Eagle.
The Tawny Eagle was perched on a dead tree when a Bonelli’s Eagle tried to harass it. Although the Tawny Eagle tried to show to the harassing bird who is the ‘boss’ (aggressiveness shown in photo 6), it nevertheless flew away from its perch. At this point, we can assume that there is no real winner or loser in this little fight between these two magnificent raptors.
Thanks to Mourad for capturing this beautiful encounter. Local birder Aimene Boulaouad was present as well. Connect with Mourad through his FB page: Mourad Harzallah – Naturaliste.
Satellite tracking showed that at least some Spanish Imperial Eagles that winter in Morocco do cross to western Algeria as well (2 birds in winter 2015/2016 and one bird in 2017/2018). See:
Spanish Imperial Eagle: recovering space beyond borders (with some maps).