About the African Fish Eagle -Uganda Safari News
The African Fish Eagle, is a large bird specie easily seen on a Uganda birding safari. It may resemble the bald eagle in appearance; though related, each species occurs on different continents.
African Fish-Eagle is a large bird of prey. Dark body and wings contrast with white head and tail. Belly and upper coverts are chestnut. Wings and back are black. When in flight, the under wings appear chestnut, and it has black flight feathers. It has short and squared white tail. The head is white too. Eyes are chestnut to pale brown. Bill is black and yellow. Legs and feet are yellow.
The immature has duller upper parts, spotted with brown. The underparts are rather whitish with broad blackish spots on belly, and streaked chest. The tail is white, heavily spotted with black. They reach their adult plumage at about five years old. Chicks are covered with white down. Bill is horn and pale yellow. Legs are pink.
The African Fish Eagle is a large bird, the female, at 3.2–3.6 kg and is larger than the male, at 2.0–2.5 kg. This is typical sexual dimorphism in birds of prey. Males usually have wingspans around 2m while females have wingspans of 2.4m. The body length is 63–75 cm.
African Fish-Eagle is sedentary. They live in pairs close to the streams. Very active and agile, it is quite able to perform bold aerial displays.
The female lays two white eggs. Incubation lasts about 42 to 45 days, shared by both parents. Chicks remain at nest for about 65 days. They can fly at about 70 to 75 days of age, but they are still raised by female (male feeds only the chicks). They depend from their parents for two months more after their first flight.
How the African Fish Eagle Calls
African Fish-Eagle’s call is very well known where it is living, and it is often known as the “Africa’s voice”. It has a typical call, a loud barking carrying far, “whii-oh-hyo-hyo-hyo”, frequently uttered, and almost similar to gull’s calls. It often calls while flying, and it is noisier at dawn. Close to the nest, it utters a soft “quock”. Female is noiseless than male.
What does the African Fish Eagle prey on?
African Fish-Eagle feeds mainly on fish, but it also consumes carrion, eggs and chicks of shore birds, some aquatic birds (larger than flamingos), more rarely monkeys, lizards, frogs, sea-turtles or insects. It dives entirely into the water to hunt a prey. It hunts starting from a perch, generally a large tree close to the water, from where it can watch over the place. It performs an approach in soft descent, and kicks out its talons ahead, almost stopping its flight to catch its prey, at about fifteen centimeters under the surface. It can capture fish of up to 1kg, and sometimes of up to 3kg. But beyond 2,5 kg, it cannot take it in flight. Then, it glides above the water to the shore, pulling its prey it swoops down upon from a perch in a tree, snatching the prey from the water with its large, clawed talons. The eagle then flies back to its perch to eat its catch. It may steal prey from other birds, and attack Shore birds’ clutches, taking eggs and chicks.
How the African Fish Eagle Nests
African Fish-Eagle’s nest is huge and made with sticks. It may reach 120 to 180 cm in diameter, and 30 to 60 cm in depth, sometimes 120 cm when the nest is re-used several times. It is lined with grasses, green leaves and roots. It is located between 4 and 22metres above the ground, in a fork in tree, near water. It is rarely found on cliffs or in bushes in steep slopes.
Where to see the African Fish Eagle in Uganda
The African Fish Eagle can easily be seen in Murchison Falls National Park during the Nile boat cruise, Queen Elizabeth National Park during a Uganda safari boat cruise along the Kazinga channel. It can also be seen in Lake Mburo National Park and on Lake Victoria..
The African Fish Eagle is just one of the bird species that can be seen on Uganda safaris out of the over 1700 bird species confirmed in the country. For more bird watching tours, Rwanda safaris, Tanzania birding safaris, a Kenya safari or Congo tour offer much more to tick on your bird list. All of these can be tailored in a single East African trip.