The Bateleur Eagle (Terathopius ecaudatus, family: Accipitridae) in the KNP
My favourite eagle and the one most commonly seen and recognized in the Kruger park
The Bateleur (Latin name Terathopius ecaudatus) has a Roberts number of 146 and you will find a full description of this bird on page 498 of Roberts 7. There is also a picture of the Bateleur on page 497. The Bateleur common name is French and means "acrobat" which is very apt since its short square tail allows it to maneuver in flight incredibly well. In fact this square short tail arrangement you see in other birds including Spinetails is a sign that the bird requires swift and accurate changes in direction to survive and go about its daily tasks.
The image above is of a mature eagle and what a wonderful bird it is. Apart from the magnificent colours of the mature eagle the bird is easily recognized in flight even form a distance by the apparent absence of a tail.
This eagle can be observed throughout the Kruger Park. It is neither Endemic or near Endemic to the Kruger National Park.
In terms of distribution of the Bateleur in the Kruger National Park see the map shown.
Identification assistance for this avian species ...
One of the first indicators to take note of when trying to identify a bird is it relative size. For example how big is the bird compared to a well known familiar bird. The Bateleur is a largish bird bigger than a Pied Crow. The height of the Bateleur is about 70 cms and its weight is about 2250 gms
The male and female Bateleur have the same plumage and colours but the Juvenile birds have a brown colouring which lasts for quite some time before mature plumage takes over. You can see the big differences between juvenile and adult birds above.
- Head is black.
- Eye is brown.
- Bill is yellow.
- Throat is black.
- Back is chestnut.
- Legs are red.
This bird has normally proportioned leg length.
Main diet items for this bird ...
The Bateleur feeds on the ground to capture its prey which it often takes to a tree branch in order to eat it. I have a photograph of a Bateleur eating a fledgling with long legs (probably a ground or aquatic bird) it had taken from a nest somewhere. The bird will eat reptiles and in fact can be considered a general scavenger.
Breeding and nesting habits for this bird ...
The Bateleur is monogamous unless its mate dies. In the event of a partner dying Terathopius ecaudatus will seek out a new mate.
The nesting habit of Bateleur is to create the nest in branches of a tree or shrub. The bird lays eggs which are cream in colour and number between 1
Habitat and flocking behaviour for this bird ...
The preferred habitats for Bateleur are: woodlands . Comments about the Bateleur :sometimes killed by snakes as it hunts.
You can expect to see Bateleur in family flocks, or pairs or as single birds.
Names of this avian species in other languages ...
Xhosa ... Ingqanga
Zulu ... iNgqungqulu
German ... Gaukler
Portuguese ... guia-bailarina
French ... Bateleur des savanes
Dutch ... Bateleur, Goochelaar
For in-depth birding information please refer to these authoritative avian references ...
Robert's 7th edition number ... 146
The main reference source for this data was "Roberts - Birds of Southern Africa, 7th Edition". Other references were "Newmans Birds of the Kruger Park" by Keith Newman published circa 1980 and Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town website , www.fitzpatrick.uct.ac.za