As Africa’s largest eagle-owl, the giant eagle-owl is one of the continents most impressive birds of prey. The giant-eagle owl is an imposing bird, with conspicuous ear tufts, and distinctive pink eyelids, on a whitish facial disk rimmed with black. The plumage is greyish-brown with light waves of white on the back, lighter, densely barred underparts, and barred flight feathers.
The female is substantially larger than the male, and has a rounder facial disk, while juveniles are distinguished by white patches on the head, and sooty barring over the body.
Black eagles, at any age, are more discomforted by heat than by cold. On hot, exposed nests they open their beaks and pant, even if there is no direct sunlight. Tiny chicks and down-covered eaglets seek shade by moving into the adults shadow or any patch of shade available on the nest.
The adults, like the nestlings, must obtain the liquid they need from their prey. Occasionally they have been observed bathing in the pond at the top of the waterfall.
The largest eagle in Africa, this bird spends much of its time on the wing, and is usually seen soaring about hill slopes, often at a very great height rendering it almost invisible to the naked eye.
Nests are built invariably in trees, at any height from 20 to 80 feet above ground, but often in the largest tree in the area, growing on a steep hillside or in a gorge, where the bird has a clear sweep off the nest.
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.
With its distinctive plumage and evocative cry, the African fish-eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) is probably the most familiar bird of prey in Africa. Perched majestically on a high branch, the contrast between the white upper-body and tail, the chestnut belly and the black wings is unmistakeable . Much less striking is the almost scruffy appearance of the immature African fish-eagle, with its generally dark-brown plumage and white mottling.