The bateleur’s (Terathopius ecaudatus) common name comes from the French word for tightrope walker, a reference to side-to-side rocking of its wing tips that occurs during gliding. One of the most colourful birds of prey, the bateleur can be readily identified by the bare patch of vivid red skin in front of the eyes and around the base of the bill, and by the stunted, orange tail. The body and head are predominantly black, contrasted with prominent grey shoulders, a chestnut mantle and bright red feet. In contrast to the very short tail, this species’ wings are exceptionally long, and coloured white on the underside with a black margin along the rear edge.
The immature bateleur differs significantly from the adult, having uniform brown plumage and lacking the bare facial patch. It takes about eight years for the immature bateleur to develop the full adult colouration, with the feet and face first becoming pale yellow, before finally reddening. Although usually silent, when agitated or during courtship, the bateleur will throw its head back and make a raucous schaaaa-aw call.