[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Aquila verreauxii | [authority] Lesson, 1830 | [UK] Verreauxs Eagle | [FR] Aigle de Verreaux | [DE] Kaffernadler | [ES] Aguila cafre | [NL] Zwarte Arend
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Members of the genus Aquila have long, broad wings and a medium tail. There are currently fourteen species of large predominantly dark-coloured eagles in the genus Aquila. This genus has a worldwide distribution.
It is 75 to 95 centimetres (30 to 37 in) long. . It has a wingspan of up to 2.2 metres (7.2 ft). It is black with a distinct white V marking on its back. Juveniles are usually light and dark brown with a black face. Unmistakable in flight, being, with the exception of a white streak in the centre of its back going through to the tail and a few white quills at the carpal joint, quite entirely black.
Its flight profile and hunting methods are similar to the Golden Eagle, to which it is related, except that the arrangement of short inner secondary flight feathers tends to make the wing in silhouette look rather leaf-shaped.
Listen to the sound of Verreauxs Eagle
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
Africa : Central, East, Southeast, South. The range of Verreaux’ Eagle extends almost throughout sub-Saharan Africa, extending north to Somalia and Sudan.
Generally confined to rocky, craggy terrain in dry to very dry country, this bird was, until comparatively recently, thought to be quite rare. It is now known to be somewhat more common, and it seems likely that its preference for inhospitable terrain probably led to the earlier view. Its favoured terrain appears to be mountainous, desert or thorn scrub.
The male marks the onset of the breeding season with an undulating display, plunging and climbing and swinging like the arm of a pendulum. Mutual displays, which are usually silent, occur at times. These birds tend to display rather less than many comparable eagles. Up to three nests are available to the pair – usually high on a crag or in a very inaccessible tree. The nests are not large for a bird of this size – usually no more than eight feet across and two feet deep (although up to six feet deep has been recorded) – probably due to the difficult positions in which they are located. The nests are built, or repaired, months before they are needed, and both birds take part in the building. Two eggs are usually laid, their timing varying from April/July in South Africa to December/March in Sudan. Both birds incubate for 43-46 days (although the female takes the greater share). Where more than one egg hatches, the elder usually kills the younger. Feathers start to appear through the down at about 34 days, and by 60 days the eaglet is fully feathered. The first flight takes place between 95 and 99 days although full independance may not be achieved for a further six months. The average life span in the wild for these birds appears to be in the region of sixteen years.
There is no doubt that the favoured food of this bird is the rock hyrax, although other mammals to the size of small antelopes and reptiles feature occasionally. Some pairs appear specialise in birds to the size of guinea fowl, although these may be in areas where the favoured diet is not plentiful. In the continuing drama of predator and prey, the hyrax has evolved many ways of avoiding capture, and the eagle has responded by finding ways around their tricks. In the end the balance of predator and prey is maintained – neither posing a threat to the continuance of the overall population of the other. Prey, which is always taken on the ground, is normally taken with a quick twist and plunge. Although not a particularly aggressive bird, the Verreaux’ Eagle has been known to attack creatures as large and as powerful as leopards in defense of their nests.
copyright: Kim Tarsey
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Resident troughout range