African Fish-eagle

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Common Name: African Fish-eagle
Scientific Name: Haliaeetus vocifer

Size: 25-30 inches (63-75 cm); Wingspan: 72-96 inches (200-240 cm)

Habitat: Africa; indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, ranging over most of continental Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Several examples of places where they may be resident include the Orange River in South Africa and Namibia, the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and Lake Malawi bordering its namesake country Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. The African fish eagle is thought to occur in substantial numbers around the locations of Lake Victoria and other large lakes that are found in Central Africa, particularly the Rift Valley lakes.

The African fish eagle is a generalist species, requiring only open water with sufficient prey and a good perch. This is evident by the number of habitat types that this species may be found in, including grassland, swamps, marshes, tropical rainforest, fynbos and even desert bordering coastlines, such as that of Namibia. The African fish eagle is absent from arid areas with little surface water.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: Unknown amount of adult individuals with a stable population trend. The species is not known to be directly persecuted by humans, even though it is very numerous and probably a direct competitor for fish. Neither is it particularly affected by habitat loss. In some regions a build-up of organochloride pesticides in water bodies and therefore in their fish prey, could result in eggshell thinning.

Diet: Primarily fish, but it will also take eggs and chicks of shore birds, lizards and frogs, as well as carrion when prey is scarce. Juveniles are known to feed at large mammal carcasses alongside vultures and Tawny Eagles.

Nesting: The adult is very distinctive in appearance with a mostly brown body and large, powerful, black wings. The head, breast, and tail of African fish eagles are snow white, with the exception of the featherless face, which is yellow. The eyes are dark brown in color. They have a hook-shaped beak which is yellow with a black tip. The plumage of the juvenile is brown in color, and the eyes are paler compared to the adult.

The species nests near water, in tall acacias or other suitable trees, and occasionally on rock outcrops. Nests are up to 1.5m in diameter and are composed of sticks and papyrus, lined with rush heads and occasionally, weaver nests. Breeding can occur at any time within Equatorial regions, but spans April - October in southern Africa; June - December in the east; and October – April in the west.

Cool Facts: The bird figures in the Coat of arms of Namibia and the Coat of arms of Zambia. It also appears on the Coat of arms of South Sudan against two crossed bush spears and a shield.

This 3D model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume IV: Eagles of the World

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