Large and distinctive eagles
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Martial Eagle L: 78–84 cm (31–33") |WS: 188–260 cm (74–102") This impressive eagle, with a short but prominent crest, is Africa’s largest and one of the world’s heaviest . The adult is uniform dark brown on the head, back and chest, and has a white belly with brown spots . The immature is pale on the head and chest, and the back is scaled greyish with white; confusion with immature African Crowned Eagle (page 192) is possible, but the underwing coverts of immature Martial Eagle are white, not creamy tan . It prefers wooded savannah habitats, and Kruger is a key refuge for this uncommon resident species, supporting a population of 150–250, including some 35–50 active nests . With a vast home range of some 144 km2 they wander widely, often leaving Kruger, making them susceptible to persecution . These birds take 6–7 years to mature and have been recorded living until 17 years old . They lay only one egg in each clutch, and do not breed every year – and are therefore unable to recover quickly if their population crashes . Martial Eagles have extremely keen eyesight, and are able to detect prey from up to six kilometres away . They hunt mostly on the wing, attacking prey from above and feeding on anything from guineafowl to bustards, and from monitor lizards to small ungulates . One of the BIG 6 EN Large and distinctive eagles larger birds of prey in flight – pages 178–179 adult adult immature 188 African Fish-Eagle L: 63–73 cm (25–29") |WS: 200–240 cm (79–94") One of the most distinctive large raptors in Africa, the African Fish-Eagle’s mostly chestnut-and-white plumage and penetrating, fluty “wheeee-ah-wheee” call make it one of the icons of the African bush . Although immatures are scruffier than adults, they still have distinctive mottled dark brown and white blotching which is especially noticeable in flight . This species is a locally common resident in Kruger and is frequently seen around permanent watercourses and other wetlands . Pairs have a strong bond and are often seen together, but since suitable habitat is limited they are fiercely territorial and rivals sometimes interlock claws and plunge, openwinged , towards the ground in a cartwheeling motion . Such show-downs sometimes end in death . As its name suggests, this species feeds mainly on fish, which are caught with a graceful, shallow plunge to the water’s surface . However, it will also eat birds and reptiles, and occasionally steals the catches of herons, storks and even Pied Kingfishers . BIRDS OF PREY AND VULTURES immature adult adult 189 ...