Terathopius Ecaudatus - The Bateleur Eagle

The Bateleur eagle is the most famous of the snake eagles. Unmistakable in flight, this striking raptor with its white underwing is extremely photogenic. The Bateleur Eagle's tail is so short that its legs protrude slightly beyond the tail during flight.

Did you know? The Bateleurs scientific name, Terathopius ecaudatus, when translated literally from both Latin and Greek, means "marvellous face, no tail".

Males and female adult birds have a black layer of feathers/plumage, the mantle and tail feathers are grey, grey shoulders, tawny covert feathers, and the contrasting red facial skin, bill and legs which make it so striking in appearance. Young birds are brown in colour with white dappling and take 7 to 8 years to lose their brownish colouring to mature into striking adulthood.

Bateleur eagles pair for life and stay in the same nest for several years. Unpaired adults can sometimes be seen near a nest site. The unpaired bird is not rejected by the mating pair but it does not help with nesting. The female Bateleur eagles are larger than males.

Size

Range mass: 1.8 - 3 kg.
Range length: 54 - 70 cm.
Range wingspan: 186 cm.

Habitat

The Bateleur Eagle prefers open habitat such as woodland savannas and grasslands where it can easily be seen soaring at low heights in search of prey. (They are not found in dense forests).

Distribution

Found throughout Africa, south of the Sahara, including South Africa where they can be seen at the world-renowned Kruger National Park, Timbavati Game Reserve and Sabi Sands in Mpumalanga; and the Klaserie Game Reserve just outside Hoedspruit in Limpopo.

Diet

Diet includes mice, birds, antelope, snakes, and carrion (dead or decaying animal).

Socialisation

Bateleur eagles pair for life and stay in the same nest for several years. Unpaired adults can sometimes be seen near a nest site. The unpaired bird is not rejected by the mating pair but it does not help with nesting.

Communication

Bateleur Eagles are mostly silent birds, but when they do emit sound, it is a harsh "kau kau kau", generally followed by "koaagh koaagh". Simultaneously they will lift their half-open wings as part of a territorial display.

Reproduction

The female Bateleur lays a single egg in a nest that usually rests in a large tree which offers some form of security. Whilst mother incubates the egg, the father hunts for food and collects twigs and extra sticks for the nest. At times the father will assist with incubation which last for a period of 55 to 60 days after which the nestling hatches. The parents will care for the hatchling for another 110 days after which it is forced out of the nest, but will remain dependant on its parents for food for an additional 3 - 4 month period. Only a small percentage of chicks ever make it to adulthood (+/-2%).

Incubation

Incubation lasts about 50-60 days and the young fledge after 100 days

Life Expectancy

20 - 25 years in the wild.

Predators

Nestlings are preyed on by Verreaux's eagle-owl.

References

The Peregrine Fund and Arkive.org.

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Bateleur Eagle
Threatened
Kruger Park's Big 6 Birds

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