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Friday, May 13, 2016

African Fish Eagle

Photo Credit: Arturo de Frias Marques
Sharply eyeing the water from its overhead perch, the predatory African fish eagle will swoop down to the surface to catch a fish that may weigh as much as the eagle itself.

Its distinctive black, brown, and white plumage and loud, ringing call make the fish eagle one of Africa's most recognizable birds. Experts think that the birds pair for life and maintain their close bond by calling to each other constantly in a variety of high and low notes.

African fish eagles are always found near lakes, reservoirs, or rivers. They also hunt along the coast, particularly in river mouths and lagoons where the water surface is sheltered.

Where food is abundant and there are plenty of large trees suitable for nesting, fish eagles may be found every few hundred yards along the shoreline.

Fish are the eagle's main prey, and it hunts from a perch overlooking the water. It make make short foraging flights, but it rarely travels more than 50 yards form the shore.

Fish eagles will eat waterfowl, terrapins, and baby crocodiles. They will also eat carrion, and will force other fish eating birds, such as herons, to give up their food.

Did you know?
  • Where breeding territories are crowded, adult fish eagles may spend so much time defending their patch that they often have no time for breeding. 
  • One fish eagle nest is known to have been used regularly for 21 years. 
  • Once they have found a good hunting area, fish eagles often do not have to hunt for any more than 15 minutes a day.

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