The African Fish Eagle is one of, if not the most, iconic and famous birds in South Africa. The African Fish Eagle is a large species of eagle that prefers living in the sub Saharan Africa, where they prefer living close to large bodies of water that have an abundance of food. The African Fish Eagle is the National Bird of Namibia and Zambia. Because of the African Fish Eagle’s large range, it is well known in many languages. The African Fish Eagle resembles the American Bald Eagle in appearance but are found in different continents.
The African Fish Eagle is a member of an ancient lineage of Sea Eagles which all have a dark beak, talons and eyes. The African fish eagle is a large bird, with the female being larger than the male. This sexual dimorphism is very common among birds of prey. Males have a large wing span of 2m with the females having a 2.4m wingspan. The adult African Fish Eagles have a very iconic colouration with their bodies being mainly brown in colour with a white head similar to the Bald Eagle, with large and powerful black wings. The Head, Tail and breast of the African Fish Eagle is a snowy white Colour. The face and legs are a bright yellow in colour and as mentioned, black talons. The hook shaped nature of the beak is ideal for the carnivorous lifestyle the African Fish Eagle has.
A Juvenile African Fish Eagle has brown plumage and the eyes are also much paler in comparison to the adults. The African Fish Eagle is made for catching aquatic prey. It has very scaly and dry feet with long sharp talons that allow it to easily grip and catch slippery aquatic prey. The African Fish Eagle’s diet mainly consists of aquatic meals like fish but it is also an opportunistic hunter that will also hunt little mammals like hares, rats, small birds, lizards and amphibians.
The African Fish Eagles live close to fresh water lakes, rivers and reservoirs though they have been seen living in the coasts of lagoons. African Fish Eagles build large nests in the tops of trees, close to a large water source. These birds are solitary animals that will mostly be seen flying on their own or with their partner close by. African Fish Eagles are birds that mate for life, staying with the same partner throughout their whole life. It is very possible to spot and hear these majestic birds flying during a Kruger Park Safari.
During the dry season, when the water levels are low, is when the fish eagles breed. Pairs often have more than one nests that they often travel between and reuse. Since the Fish Eagle pairs reuse the nests they can actually grow quite large, up to 2m wide and about 1m deep. The Nests are built up over the many visits and are mostly made up of different pieces of wood. The female can lay up to three white eggs that are covered in reddish speckles. The incubation of the eggs last about 45 days.