Fish-Eagle, African

Discussions and information on all Southern African Birds
User avatar
Richprins
Committee Member
Posts: 74119
Joined: Sat May 19, 2012 3:52 pm
Location: NELSPRUIT

Fish-Eagle, African

Post by Richprins » Fri May 22, 2020 10:31 am

148. African Fish-eagle Haliaeetus vocifer (Visarend)
ORDER ACCIPITRIFORMES. Family: Accipitridae



Description
A large broad-winged eagle with short tail. Adult has unmistakable black and chestnut plumage with a white head, breast and tail and black wings. The featherless face is yellow. The hook-shaped beak is yellow with a black tip. Dark brown eyes distinguish it at all ages from Osprey. The feet are yellowish in color and have spiky growths on the bottom that help to grip prey, called spiricules.
Juvenile is dark-brown with scruffy white patches on head, belly, underwing, coverts, and primary bases; it has a black eyeline. tail is longer than adults, white with brown tip. The eyes are paler compared to the adult. Head and breast gradually whitened with age, taking 4-5 years to acquire adults plumage and the dark streaks that form on the breast are the last of the juvenile plumage to disappear.

Distribution
Across sub-Saharan Africa; in southern Africa it is locally common in much of the region, excluding the arid Namib Desert, Kalahari and much of the Karoo.

Habitat
It generally favours large water bodies, large rivers, lakes, estuaries, lagoons, dams.

Diet
The African Fish Eagle feeds mainly on fish, swooping down to the water surface to grab a fish with its talons; it may even catch fish straight from the waves of the sea! Fish that weigh under about 2 kg are lifted out of the water and carried to a perch to be eaten, but if the fish is larger than 3 kg, the fish-eagle drags to the shore using its wings as paddles. It is an opportunistic feeder and may take a wider variety of prey such as water-birds, reptiles and carrion. They may also raid colonies of nesting waterbirds for young and eggs.

Breeding
Monogamous, territorial solitary nester. Winter is the breeding season in southern Africa. African Fish Eagles are believed to mate for life, performing a courtship display in which the male repeatedly dives at the female, who presents her talons. A breeding pair mates almost daily. The nest is mainly built by the female in roughly two months. It is a a large platform of sticks or Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), lined with grass, papyrus heads, other aquatic plants and occasionally weaver nests. Due to the considerable effort required to build the nest, the same structure is often reused over multiple breeding seasons, although a breeding pair may have multiple nests, alternating between them each year. It is typically placed on a cliff ledge or at the top of a tall tree, usually less than 100 metres from water. Egg-laying season is from April-August, peaking from May-June. The clutch size is 1-3, exceptionally 4, usually 2. Eggs are primarily white with a few reddish speckles. They are laid at intervals of 2-3 days, with incubation, by both parents in turn, beginning as soon as the first is laid. Eggs are mainly incubated by the female for about 42-45 days, while the male may take over for an hour or two so that she can hunt. The chicks are brooded for much of the nestling period; the older chick often ruthlessly attacks the younger bird and prevents it from getting food, even if there is plenty of food to go around. The parents ignore this behaviour, and by seven weeks the competition for food between siblings intensifies, although they are less aggressive to each other. The younger chick either dies or grows to be a lot weaker than its siblings, in fact 2-3 chicks often survive to fledge at 70-75 days old. They become fully independent after another two months or so.

Call
Its distinctive cry has become synonymous with the sound of Africa. It has two distinct calls - in flight or perched, the sound is a ringing kyow-kow-kow with head thrown back. Also a heee-ah, heeah-heeah. When near the nest, its call is more of a quock sound - the female is a little shriller and less mellow than the male. Listen to Bird Call.

Status
Locally common resident, largely sedentary. Not threatened globally, but Near-threatened in Namibia due its small population there.

Bird Book: https://africawild-forum.com/viewtopic. ... 660#p65660
Please check Needs Attention pre-booking: https://africawild-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=322&t=596

User avatar
Richprins
Committee Member
Posts: 74119
Joined: Sat May 19, 2012 3:52 pm
Location: NELSPRUIT

Re: Fish Eagle

Post by Richprins » Fri May 22, 2020 10:35 am



It is actually eating a big barbel! :-0
Last edited by Richprins on Fri May 22, 2020 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
Please check Needs Attention pre-booking: https://africawild-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=322&t=596

User avatar
Richprins
Committee Member
Posts: 74119
Joined: Sat May 19, 2012 3:52 pm
Location: NELSPRUIT

Re: Fish Eagle

Post by Richprins » Fri May 22, 2020 11:27 am

Please check Needs Attention pre-booking: https://africawild-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=322&t=596

Return to “Birds”