Aquila wahlbergi (Wahlberg's eagle) 

Bruinarend [Afrikaans]; Ekangakodi (also applied to some of the other eagles) [Kwangali]; Gondo (generic name for eagle) [Shona]; Ghama (generic term for eagle) [Tsonga]; Ntsu, Ntswi (generic terms for eagles) [Tswana]; Wahlberg-arend [Dutch]; Aigle de Wahlberg [French]; Wahlbergs adler [German]; Įguia de Wahlberg [Portuguese]

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Aquila wahlbergi (Wahlberg's eagle)  Aquila wahlbergi (Wahlberg's eagle) 
Wahlberg's eagle, South Africa. [photo Dave Scott ©] Wahlberg's eagle, South Africa. [photo Peet van Schalkwyk ©, see also scienceanimations.com]

Distribution and habitat

Occupies much of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the lowland forest of the DRC and adjacent West African countries. In southern Africa, it is common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, north-eastern South Africa, northern and south-eastern Botswana and northern and central Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip). It generally prefers well-wooded savanna (especially if moist) as well as cultivated areas with tall trees.

Distribution of Wahlberg's eagle in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Intra-African breeding migrant, arriving in southern Africa in the period from August-September, and departing in March and April. Its presence in the region corresponds with the annual peak in rainfall, which allows the adults to find food their chicks more easily.

Food 

It eats a wide variety of animals, especially birds, mammals and reptiles, often hunting from a perch. It also soars across the sky in search of prey; if it spots something, it gradually descends and then rapidly plunges to the ground, straight onto it's prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, performing incredible aerial courtship displays in which both sexes  undulate their flight.
  • The nest (see image below) is built by both sexes, consisting of a small, strongly-built platform of thin sticks thickly lined with green leaves. It is typically placed in the fork of the canopy of a tall tree, especially a Jackal-berry (Diospyros mespiliformis) or Knob-thorn (Acacia nigrescens) overlooking a dry watercourse.
Aquila wahlbergi (Wahlberg's eagle)   

Wahlberg's eagle at its nest, Nylsvley area, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

 
  • Egg-laying season is from August-January, peaking from September-October.
  • It almost invariably lays a single egg (rarely two), which is mainly incubated by the female for about 44-46 days.
  • The chick is fed by the female with food provided by the male, leaving the nest at about 70-75 days old.

Threats

Not threatened, although in some localities its population is decreasing, due to poisoning and habitat transformation.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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