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Bateleur Eagle

Bateleur Eagle

Facts about this powerful bird of prey.

Bateleur Eagle

Facts about this powerful bird of prey.

The Bateleur Eagle

Introduction

Bateleur eagles are one of the most distinctive birds of prey to recognise, both when sitting motionless or in flight. They are an incredibly stocky bird, with black feathers on their main bodies, and normally a chestnut colour on their backs and tails.  Their bare face and legs are a brilliant red, which contrast starkly against the black body colouring to make this a very striking bird indeed. They have extremely short tail feathers, which when in flight, makes them look extremely 'wobbly' when thermalling on warm air currents.  Their name is derived from the French word 'bateleur', meaning 'tight rope walker', in reference to its distinctive flight pattern.

They are mostly solitary birds, and spend the majority of their day in flight, covering vast distances in search of prey. They catch mostly birds (hornbills, francolins, starlings) and small mammals (rats and hares), but reptiles and insects are also eaten. Carrion is an important part of their diet, and the bateleur eagle is often the first to arrive at a large carcass alongside vultures, but more often than not will be seen at the roadside feeding off the dead bodies of animals from road kills. 

They breed throughout the year, peaking during the summer months of January to March, and will lay a single egg in a platform nest made of sticks, built in the protective canopy of a large tree.