An opportunistic predator, the steppe eagle is known for using a wide variety of hunting techniques (2) (5). Typically, this species soars high above its prey, before making a steep dive and seizing the animal in its powerful talons (2), but it may also steal prey from other raptors while in flight, or catch prey while on the ground, often by waiting outside a burrow entrance (2) (5). Interestingly, a steppe eagle in East Africa was observed to ambush burrowing blind and semi-blind mole rats (genus Spalax) by watching for soil movement, before pouncing and burying its talons under the earth (5). Small mammals form the major part of this species diet, in particular various species of suslik (genus Citellus) which, during breeding, may comprise over 98 percent of prey taken by Aquila nipalensis orientalis. Carrion is also frequently consumed during migration, while winged harvester termites provide an abundant source of food for wintering birds in South Africa (2).
Steppe eagles arrive at their summer breeding grounds around April, at the start of spring. Large nests, up to a metre wide, are constructed from twigs and lined with various materials, such as old rags and camel dung. While the nests are usually placed on the ground in a position allowing a good view of the surroundings, as a result of habitat alteration and persecution, nests are increasingly being found in trees, bushes and on artificial structures. The female lays a clutch of between one and three eggs which are incubated for 45 days, with the chicks being brooded for a further 55 to 65 days before fledging. The steppe eagle is remarkably long lived, reaching up to 41 years in captivity (2).