restricted access Crowned eagle and snake-eagles
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African Crowned Eagle L: 90 cm (35") |WS: 130–160 cm (51–63") A very large, crested, boldly marked eagle . The underparts are blotched and barred black and white, with a variable rufous wash across the breast . In flight, the underside shows strong barring, although immatures are paler and less distinctly marked than adults and have creamy-tan underwings . This species is an uncommon and localized resident in Kruger, favouring riverine forest . It has an undulating display flight coupled with a loud “wheee-yooo, wheee-yooo, wheee-yooo” call that often draws attention . Although smaller than the Martial Eagle (page 188), it is arguably more powerful . Its relatively short, broad wings give it excellent manoeuvrability in dense forest, where it hunts mostly primates, especially Vervet Monkeys . Birds have been reported to stalk prey for days, sometimes wounding it and then waiting for it to weaken before killing it . VU Crowned eagle and snake-eagles larger birds of prey in flight – pages 178–179 192 Brown Snake-Eagle L: 71–76 cm (28–30") |WS: 150–165 cm (59–65") A medium-sized dark-brown eagle with yellow eyes, a large, bulky, owl-like head, pale unfeathered legs and a brown-and-white-banded tail . Most immatures are paler than adults but at all ages the brown-and-silver underwing is distinctive in flight . This is a nomadic species which is fairly common in Kruger, although most individuals in the park are probably non-breeding visitors . It favours more wooded habitats than Black-breasted Snake-Eagle and mostly hunts from perches . As the name suggests it feeds mainly on snakes, including mambas, cobras and adders, landing on their head or spine and disabling them, but will also take other vertebrates . Black-breasted Snake-Eagle L: 63–68 cm (25–27") |WS: 160–178 cm (63–70") A medium-sized eagle with brown-and-white plumage and yellow eyes . It is superficially similar to the Martial Eagle (page 188), but is smaller, and lacks spots on the white underparts (juveniles are mostly rufous) . In flight, it has brown-barred white underwings, rather than all-brown as in Martial Eagle . This species is uncommon in Kruger, although its nomadic tendencies mean that numbers fluctuate . It sometimes hovers when hunting . It feeds mainly on snakes and has heavily scaled feet to help protect it if struck, but will also eat skinks, monitors and other small vertebrates . BIRDS OF PREY AND VULTURES 193 ...