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Juvenile Crowned Eagle sighting - Soutpansberg.

A juvenile African Crowned Eagle was seen and photographed by birders on the Aves North West Tour/ Safar/Adventure at Roodewal Forest, Soutpansberg, on Friday 4th May2012.

African Crowned Eagle

The African Crowned Eagle - Stephanoaetus coronatus - is a very large, powerful, crested bird of prey which is found in Africa south of the Sahara. In South Africa it is found in the Eastern parts, where there is suitable habitat. It inhabits dense forests, heavily wooded hillsides, dense woodland and rocky outcrops throughout its range. Owing to lack of suitable habitat, the eagle's range is discontinuous. They are non-migratory and largely sedentary.


It has dark grey upperparts with rufous and white below; its belly and breast are heavily mottled with black. This eagle has relatively short, broad and rounded wings for added maneuverability in its environment. The rufous underwing coverts and strongly barred white and black outer wings and tail are all diagnostic in flight. The large crest and this bird's large size make the adult near-unmistakable at close range. The legs are extremely powerful and the eagle possesses formidably large, strong talons, used for killing and dismembering prey. The female is larger than the male.


Pairs are fairly vocal in their territory – the call – “cheeep chereep chereep”.


Its diet is mostly mammalian, with primates being the most commonly taken prey. It will also take hyraxes, duikers and other small antelope, but will hunt guineafowl and domestic livestock when mammalian food sources are scarce. Pairs sometimes hunt cooperatively, using a clever technique whereby one bird flies above the canopy overhead of a monkey troop, eliciting alarm calls from them which exposes their position. The eagle's mate then follows a short while later, killing from behind any monkey unfortunate enough to be caught out in the open. It usually strikes the skull or diaphragm of prey with its talons in a downward motion, a movement powerful enough to kill instantly.


The pair collaborate in building a massive nest in a fork of a large forest tree. A nest built from scratch may take several months to construct, however existing nests are often repaired and re-used during successive breeding seasons.

Crowned Eagle pairs breed once every two years. A single breeding cycle is approximately 500 days.

Breeding season / egg laying is from July to May and normally 2 eggs are laid which are usually incubated by the female for between 49 to 51 days. The chick is fed by both adults and remains reliant on the parents for about 11 months.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

The Crowned Eagle is fairly common in suitable habitat, though its numbers show decline in sync with deforestation. It is far more common in protected areas and reserves than elsewhere in its range, though is still recorded consistently outside of these areas. They are Near-threatened in South Africa, largely due to persecution by small stock farmers and destruction of forest habitats.


Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create an Aves custom tour for you or book on one of the following scheduled Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures: -

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.


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