(Haliaeetus voicifer)

Another species of eagle in our collection is the African Fish Eagle. He was captive bred in the UK and arrived at the centre at the end of July 2008 at around 8 weeks old. It took around 5 years for him to reach full adult plumage, changing his juvenile brown plumage for his distinctive white head, neck and upper chest. The rest of his body is chestnut-brown in colouration, and the back of his wings are black.

He is trained to fly on some of our Bird Handling Experiences, such as the One Day and Large Raptor experiences, and for public flying displays at the Centre and outside events. He has even learned to "catch" food from a bath full of water while in flight, just as his wild counterparts snatch fish from lakes and rivers.

 

Our African Fish Eagle is known to us by several nicknames - originally named "Biscuit", when he reached adult plumage his white head and dark body earned him the new moniker "Guinness", but our falconers usually just call him "Fish"!

 

In the Wild

Origin:  Africa - all countries south of the Sahara and southern parts of Western Africa.

Diet: Mainly fish, but also birds (mainly nestlings) and occasionally mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and rarely carrion. 

Fishes mainly surface feeding fish and can lift up to 1.5kg easily.  Once airborne can carry 2kg easily for considerable distances.

Usually only one in seven or eight fishing attempts are successful, usually spends less than 10 minutes a day fishing, except when feeding young.

Habitat: Usually always around water: large freshwater lakes, rivers, floodplains and stocked dams, but also swamps and alkaline lakes; on the coast: creeks, estuaries and mangrove lagoons, preferably with calm waters. 

Birds are usually sedentary except in times of drought, floods and loss of food supply. 

SPECIES FACTFILE

LENGTH: 63-75 cm

WINGSPAN: 175-210cm

WEIGHT: 2.0-3.6kg

EGGS IN CLUTCH: 2-3

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