African Fish Eagle


An African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) overlooks the valley below, considering which perch is most suitable to sleep on during the night. African fish eagles belong to the genus Haliaeetus, which also includes the white-bellied sea eagle of Australasia (H. leucogaster), the bald eagle of North America (H. leucocephalus), and the gigantic stellar’s sea eagle (H. pelagicus). In contrast to the other eleven eagle species that occur on Mpala, the fish eagle is the most riparian of them. They prefer to perch along the banks of rivers, where they can swoop down to ambush fish and occasionally reptiles and waterbirds as they are opportunistic predators. Around the hippo pools, we’ve been able to spot this species pretty reliably, but I was happy to see one at close range, giving me a good look at the details of its beak and rusty plumage. The call of the African fish eagle is perhaps as iconic to Africa as the red-tailed hawk call is to North America (well, maybe the hyrax that is shrieking right now is even more iconic for Mpala). While we were observing the wild dogs, we saw an eagle performing its shrill cries from the top of a fever tree, and further down the road a herd of elephants and giraffe foraged on acacia leaves. Mpala is really an amazing place to be.

All eagles in this post photographed in situ [1]

Sunset by the hippo pools, a reliable spot to find fish eagles perched atop the fever trees.
Tawny eagle nest (Aquila rapax)
Martial eagles (Polemaetus bellicosus)

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