[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Haliaeetus vociferoides | [authority] Des Murs, 1845 | [UK] Madagascar Fish Eagle | [FR] Pygargue de Madagascar | [DE] Madagaskar-Seeadler | [ES] Pigargo Magache | [NL] Madagaskarzeearend
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
Large fish-eagle. Dark reddish-brown back and underparts (latter streaked rufous), dark brown cap, whitish cheeks and throat. Dark brown wings, rather short white tail. Juvenile streaked on head, with pale fringes to flight feathers and paler underparts, and dark tail. Could only be confused with Madagascar Buzzard Buteo brachypterus or Madagascar Harrier-hawk Polyboroides radiatus, from which separated by white tail and cheeks in adult, and huge size, strong head and short tail of juvenile.
Africa : Madagascar. This species survives in low numbers along the west coast of Madagascar. Surveys during 1991-1995 recorded at least 222 adults and 99 breeding pairs from 105 sites, apparently concentrated into three main regions: the Antsalova region west of Bemaraha Reserve, along the Tsiribihina River, and the coast from Mahajamba Bay to the island of Nosy Hara
The species is found predominantly in wooded areas adjacent to waterbodies. It favours sites with large trees by the shoreline suitable for perching
Builds a large tree stcik nest in june-july. Always near water and in a suitable large tree, cliff or mangrove close to the hunting waters. Clutch size is usually 2, rarely 3. The incubation period is about 6 weeks, the young fledge after another 4 months. Usually only one chick reaches post breeding due to siblicide.
The diet consists almost entirely of fish, with an occasional crab taken. Theis Egle hunts by perching and soaring followed by plunge diving to catch prey. It is an opportunistic hunter not bound to specific waters or fish species. It will attack and pirate prey from other waterbirds.
Video Madagascar Fish Eagle
copyright: Martin Kennewell
This species has an extremely small population which is probably declining rapidly, and it is therefore classified as Critically Endangered. However, recent data has suggested its population is stable, and may have been for some time. Should this be confirmed the species may warrant downlisting in the future.
Deforestation, soil erosion and the development of wetland areas for rice-paddies have caused loss of nesting and foraging habitat. The species is threatened by direct human competition for fish-stocks, persecution through the taking of nestlings and shooting of adults, accidental entanglement in fishing-nets, disturbance at breeding sites by human activities and, according to local people, use of eagle body parts in food and traditional medicine. Water pollution poses a potential threat given the species’s reliance on fish and the tendency for pollutants to accumulate in prey tissues. The species has been recorded to have low genetic diversity compared to other Haliaeetus species, however this is not thought to be because of the recent population bottleneck hence is not thought to be a major threat.