Long-crested eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)

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Long-crested eagle sat on a pole, crest blowing in wind
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Long-crested eagle fact file

Long-crested eagle description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderFalconiformes
FamilyAccipitridae
GenusLophaetus (1)

The remarkably long, feathered crest possessed by the aptly named long-crested eagle, is this unmistakeable bird of prey’s most striking feature (2) (4) (5). It is a relatively small eagle with dark brown to black plumage, long, white feathered legs, and a well barred tail (4) (5). With the broad, rounded wings spread in flight, patches of white are conspicuous at the base of the primaries (2). Although larger and heavier than the male, the female usually has a slightly shorter crest and often has dirty white to brown legs (2) (4). The juvenile is very similar to the adult but tends to have lighter plumage and, like the female, a shorter crest (4).

French
Aigle huppé.
Size
Length: 53 - 58 cm (2)
Male weight: 912 – 1363 g (2)
Female weight: 1367 – 1523 g (2)
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Long-crested eagle biology

The long-crested eagle feeds almost entirely on small rodents, but will also occasionally take small birds, lizards, arthropods, fish and fruit (2) (4). Spending extended periods on a prominent perch, it scans the ground below, swooping down sporadically on exposed prey (2) (6).

Although predominately sedentary, long-crested eagles are known be somewhat nomadic in regions that experience significant seasonal variation in rainfall (6). Breeding generally takes place during the wet season, but timing is fairly erratic and probably coincides with fluctuations in rodent populations (2) (6). One to two eggs are incubated in a stick nest, built in an upper fork of a tall tree, on the edge of a forest or woodland. The downy chicks hatch after around 42 days and usually fledge after another 53 to 58 days (2).

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Long-crested eagle range

The long-crested eagle has a sub-Saharan distribution ranging from Senegal east to Ethiopia, and south to northern Namibia and eastern South Africa (2) (6).

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Long-crested eagle habitat

An inhabitant of the edges of all types of forest and woodland, the long-crested eagle is particularly common near marshes, wetlands and rivers. It will also occupy modified habitats, where there are trees suitable for nesting and perching, such as eucalypt and pine plantations (2) (6).

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Long-crested eagle status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Long-crested eagle threats

The long crested-eagle is common and widespread and consequently is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (2) (6) (7). Although this species is somewhat vulnerable to degradation of woodlands and wetlands, it has benefited from the creation of agricultural clearings and exotic plantations (2) (6).

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Long-crested eagle conservation

There are no known conservation measures in place for the long-crested eagle but it almost certainly occurs in numerous protected areas across its range (8).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on the long-crested eagle and other birds of prey see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Arthropods
A very diverse phylum (a major grouping of animals) that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
Incubated
The act of keeping eggs warm so that development is possible.
Primaries
In birds, the main flight feathers projecting along the outer edge of the wing.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (January, 2009)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. (2001) Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm, London.
  5. Sinclair, I. and Davidson, I. (2006) Southern African Birds: A Photographic Guide. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  6. Global Raptor Information Network (January, 2009)
    http://www.globalraptors.org/grin/SpeciesResults.asp?specID=8292
  7. BirdLife International (January, 2009)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3549&m=0
  8. World Database on Protected Areas (January, 2009)
    http://www.wdpa.org
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Image credit

Long-crested eagle sat on a pole, crest blowing in wind  
Long-crested eagle sat on a pole, crest blowing in wind

© Stan Osolinski / gettyimages.com

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