Wahlberg’s eagle (Aquila wahlbergi)

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Wahlberg's eagle perched on a branch
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Wahlberg’s eagle fact file

Wahlberg’s eagle description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderFalconiformes
FamilyAccipitridae
GenusAquila (1)

Wahlberg’s eagle is a plain, medium-sized bird of prey with the distinction of probably being the most common eagle in Africa (2) (4). Although usually dark brown, its plumage can vary a great deal, with some morphs being almost pure white in appearance (5) (6). In flight, this eagle can be readily identified with its long, straight-edged wings and long square tail, likened to one narrow and one wide plank crossing at right angles (5) (6) (7). The head has a slight crest and the legs are entirely feathered, a feature common to all true eagles (6) (7). Immature Wahlberg’s eagles are identical in appearance to the adults (7).

Synonyms
Hieraaetus wahlbergi.
French
Aigle de Wahlberg.
Size
Male weight: 437 - 845 g (2)
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Wahlberg’s eagle biology

Wahlberg’s eagle is a migratory species with many birds moving southwards from north of the equator to breed during the summer months (4) (7). The courtship flights are noisy but relatively brief and rarely involve more than the male and female circling each other. Nests are fairly small and are constructed in the canopy of a tall tree such as a baobab, acacia or eucalyptus. Normally just a single egg is laid which is incubated for around 45 days before hatching.

Hunting on the wing, Wahlberg’s eagle takes a varied diet of reptiles, small to medium sized birds and small mammals in roughly equal proportions (2) (7). In some areas it will occasionally catch other animals such as amphibians and insects and is known to steal food from the long-crested eagle (2).

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Wahlberg’s eagle range

This migratory species occurs throughout most of East, West, Central and Southern Africa from South Africa up to Sudan and across to Mauritania (1) (2).

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Wahlberg’s eagle habitat

In accordance with a large geographical distribution, Wahlberg’s eagle occurs in a wide range of habitats from woodland to areas of cultivation (5)

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Wahlberg’s eagle status

Classified as Least Concern 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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Wahlberg’s eagle threats

Although in some parts of its range Wahlberg’s eagle has been negatively affected by accidental poisoning and tree felling, there is no evidence that there is a significant decline in its population (2) (4).

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Wahlberg’s eagle conservation

There are no known conservation measures currently in place for Wahlberg’s eagle.

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Find out more

For further information on the conservation of eagles 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

Incubated
The act of keeping eggs warm so that development is possible.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. (2001) Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm, London.
  3. CITES (September, 2008)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Southern African Birds Atlas Project 2 (December, 2008)
    http://sabap2.adu.org.za/docs/sabap1/135.pdf
  5. Sinclair, I. (1994) Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  6. Newman, K. (2002) Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  7. Allan, D. (2000) A photographic guide to birds of prey of Southern, Central and East Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
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Image credit

Wahlberg's eagle perched on a branch  
Wahlberg's eagle perched on a branch

© David Beadle

David Beadle

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