African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)

African Fish Eagle

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Haliaeetus vocifer | [authority] Daudin, 1800 | [UK] African Fish Eagle | [FR] Pygargue vocifere | [DE] Schrei-Seeadler | [ES] Pigargo Vocinglero | [NL] Afrikaanse Zeearend

Subspecies

Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Haliaeetus vocifer AF widespread

Genus

Members of the genus Haliaeetus are large to very large eagles, with long, broad wings and medium to short rounded or wedge-shaped tails. The bill is large, strong and compressed. The legs are short and the toes and talons powerfully developed

Physical charateristics

The African Fish Eagle is a large bird, and the female, at 3.2-3.6 kg (7-8 lbs) is larger than the male, at 2-2.5 kg (4.4-5.5 lbs). This is typical of sexual dimorphism in birds of prey. Males usually have a wingspan of about 2 m (6 feet), while females have wingspans of 2.4 m (8 feet). The body length is 63-75 cm (25-30 in). The adult is very distinctive in appearance with a mostly brown body and large, powerful, black wings. The head, breast, and tail of African Fish Eagles are snow white, with the exception of the featherless face, which is yellow. The eyes are dark brown in colour. The hook-shaped beak, ideal for a carnivorous lifestyle, is yellow with a black tip. The plumage of the juvenile is brown in colour, and the eyes are paler compared to the adult. The feet have rough soles and are equipped with powerful talons in order to enable the eagle to grasp slippery aquatic prey.

Listen to the sound of African Fish Eagle

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ACCIPITRIFORMES/Accipitridae/sounds/African Fish Eagle.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto


wingspan min.: 185 cm wingspan max.: 195 cm
size min.: 63 cm size max.: 75 cm
incubation min.: 42 days incubation max.: 45 days
fledging min.: 65 days fledging max.: 75 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 4  

Range

Africa : widespread.This bird is most frequently seen by the rivers, lakes and coasts of Africa south of the Sahara. Near Lake Victoria and the other great lakes of Central Africa it is to be seen in large numbers

Habitat

It is most frequently seen sitting high in a tall tree from where it has a good view of the stretch of river, lakeshore or coastline, which is its territory. 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 15 miles or more. Some tend to move around to avoid the wettest weather, whereas others stay where they are all year round.

Reproduction

The breeding display consists of much soaring and calling with very occasional claw-grappling. Breeding season for African Fish Eagles is during the dry season, when water levels are low. African Fish Eagles are believed to be monogamous – in other words, they mate for life. Pairs will often maintain two or more nests, which they will frequently re-use. Because nests are re-used and built upon over the years the nests can grow to be quite large, some reaching 2m (six feet) across and 1.2 m (4 feet) deep. The nests are placed in a large tree and built mostly of sticks and other pieces of wood. Fish eagle from frontThe female lays 1 to 3 eggs, which are primarily white with a few reddish speckles. Incubation is mostly done by the female, but the male will incubate when the female leaves to hunt. Incubation lasts for 42 to 45 days before the chicks hatch. The eggs will often hatch a few days apart, and the eldest chick will usually kill any younger chicks; this tactic is known as siblicide and is also found in other birds of prey. Fledging lasts for 65 to 75 days, and after about 8 weeks the chick is capable of feeding itself and will usually begin to venture outside of the nest 2 weeks later

Feeding habits

Their main food is fish, sometimes dead, but mostly caught live. Catfish and lungfish are among the most frequent. They do, however, also catch and eat some water birds, including their young. The birds most frequently taken include ibis, storks, herons and spoonbills and especially the Lesser Flamingo. They also eat some carrion. Live caught fish account for about 90% of their diet

Video African Fish Eagle

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ABRK11pSms

copyright: africacam


Conservation

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
African Fish Eagle status Least Concern

Migration

Resident in suitable habitat, usually around permanent waterbodeies; territorial and in pairs. It is believed to extend its range to f.e. Namiba. Young are dispersive and are found far outside breeding grounds, often in small flocks. Vagrant to egypt.

Distribution map

African Fish Eagle distribution range map

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