[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Hieraaetus wahlbergi | [authority] Sundevall, 1851 | [UK] Wahlbergs Eagle | [FR] Aigle de Wahlberg | [DE] Silberadler | [ES] Aguila de Wahlberg | [NL] Wahlbergs Arend
Members of the genus Hieraaetus are small to medium-sized eagles, with long and pointed wings; a longish tail, and feathered legs. They are very active eagles, not given to eating carrion, and found usually in lightly forested country. The genus is difficult to separate from Aquila, Spizastur and Spizaetus. Some species have at one time or another been placed in more than one genus, and some references combine Hieraaetus with Aquila. The main species are: Hieraaetus fasciatus of southern Eurasia, the Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus of Eurasia, Hieraaetus morphnoides of Australia and the New Guinea race – Hieraaetus morphnoides weiskei, the smallest of all the booted eagles; Hieraaetus dubius of Africa and Hieraaetus kienerii of India.
The large brown eagles are generally a tricky group to identify, but distinctive features of Wahlberg’s Eagle include: round nostrils which separates it from Tawny and Steppe Eagles, although the two Spotted Eagles also have round nostrils; some form of a crest is usually visible; the gape only extends at maximum to the middle of the eye, whereas in Lesser Spotted Eagle, it extends to the back of the eye. There are both light and dark phases of this species.
Listen to the sound of Wahlbergs Eagle
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
Africa : widespread
Found mainly in wooded savanna and woodlands and avoids dense forest and arid regions, e.g., the Kalahari. It tends to occur in more wooded country than the Tawny Eagle. Especially abundant in riparian habitats and prefers flat terrain more than hilly or mountainous areas. Spends much timing soaring, usually about 100 m above the ground
Builds a small stick nest lined with green leaves and placed high in a fork of a large tree, often in riparian habitat. Clutch size is usually only a single egg, but some females lay two. The eggs are distinctively marked, some being immaculate white and others with a variety of dark brown and reddish brown blotches. The female does most of the incubation. The incubation period is about 44 days, and the nestling period is about 10 weeks. When two eggs are laid, only one usually survives, as the result of cainism. The breeding season is short, probably a migration-related adaptation. The young gain independence rapidly and leave the breeding area on migration at the same time as the adults. This species is single-brooded.
Preys on small animals, including bush squirrels, rodents, small mongooses, young hares, many types of birds, lizards, small snakes, and frogs; birds are the most frequently taken prey in most areas. Hunts from a perch or stoops on parachutes on prey from the air.
copyright: Josep del Hoyo
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.
A regular trans-equatorial, intra-African migrant, usually laying eggs (or eggs) within a month of arriving in E, C and S Africa and departing within a month of fledging a chick. Bulk of population breeds S of equator, moving S through Uganda and Rwanda in Jul-Sept, N through Zambia and Kenya in Feb-Mar, to winter NE of equator. Relatively few breeding records in W and NE African savannas; probably a separate sub-population with limited seasonal movements, S into Guinea savannas in dry season and N to breed in Jul-Sept. A few apparently resident around equator.