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Three Star Grading

Tourism Grading Council
South Africa





 

 

 

 

 

 



Birds of South Africa

Click on Links below to see info of South African and St. Lucia Bird Species
African Crowned Eagle| African Fish Eagle| Black Shouldered Kite| Blue Crane| Great White Pelican| Malachite Kingfisher| Purple Crested Lourie| Secretary Bird| Spotted Eagle Owl| Verreaux's (Black) Eagle|

Common Name: African Fish Eagle

Scientific Name: Haliaeetus vocifer

Description:

The African Fish Eagle can be seen flying throughout the Southern Africa skies and is known by many different names, in many different languages. These include: the River Eagle, Pygargue vocifer, Aigle p cheur. It is recognised by its destinctive This beautiful animal, which is related to the North American Bald Eagle, is a fairly large eagle and can be identified by its distinctive black, brown and white plumage and bare legs. Immature browner and streaked, with a black tip to the tail. The sound of the African Fish Eagle has become synonymous with the sound of Africa. It has two distinct calls - in flight or perched, the sound is something like the American Bald Eagle. When near the nest, its call is more of a 'quock' sound - the female is a little shriller and less mellow than the male.

Bird

Pictures: Courtesy of South African Tourism!

Size:

Huge, height - up to 75cm; wingspan- up to 237cm

Area:

Widespread in Southern Africa (south of 16 N), its habitat is usually limited to larger rivers, lakes, pans and dams, with enough large trees for it to perch on. These eagles are also found near coastal lagoons and estuaries, but are absent in the south-western parts of the continent and areas of eastern Somalia where it is very arid. Except along the Orange and Kunene rivers. Very often spotted in the St. Lucia Wetlands area.

Habits:

The African Fish Eagle is usually seen in pairs but sometimes you'll find them alone, whether it is inside or outside of their breeding season that stretches from March to September. They evenly share the kills made by either between the two of them.

Nesting:

The nest consists of a large pile of sticks, 120 to 180 cm in diameter, and 30 to 60 cm thick. It is usually build in the fork of a tree, near water, but also sometimes on a cliff ledge or in a low bush on a steep slopeIn winter. Lays one to three plain white eggs which hatch after six weeks, Youngsters leave the nest after a 10 week fledging period.

Food:

As its name suggests, its main diet consists mostly of fish, sometimes dead, but mostly caught live. They are able to catch fish up to 1 kg in weight and in some exceptional circumstances up to 3 kg. Fish weighing over two and a half kilograms are not carried in flight, but planed along surface of water to shore. Catfish and lungfish are caught most frequently. In some areas it also feeds off flamingos and other water birds. It is also known to eat carrion and in some rare circumstances will even feed off dassies, monkeys, monitor lizards, frogs, terrapins and insects. Hunting takes place from where the eagle is perched and rarely while it is soaring in the sky. Stooping at fish, African Fish Eagle will catch their pray with their feet, usually within 15 cm of the water surface. They may also submerge at times. The African Fish Eagle is classified as a kleptoparasite. This means that it steals prey from other birds, for example Goliath Herons, which are known to lose a percentage of their catch to Fish Eagles. They may also raid colonies of nesting waterbirds for young and eggs. The African Fish Eagle does not need a big area to survive. Near a lake with an abundant food supply, a pair may require less than a square mile of water to find enough food, whereas next to a small river, they may require a stretch of 25 km or more.