Uganda’s Beautiful African Fish Eagle

Uganda’s Beautiful African Fish Eagle: This remarkable raptor, which is part of the Accipitridae family and is commonly associated with water, is one of the most iconic and majestic birds of prey. Its sharp, deep, and piercing call is often referred to as the “voice of Africa” and represents the wild beauty of the African continent, embodying grace and power. It can be heard in many different places, including riverine areas, wetlands, and lakes like Lake Victoria and other rift valley lakes like Lake Albert, Lake George, Lake Kyoga, and Lake Edward among others.

Physical Characteristics

An adult stunning African Fish Eagle has a reflected white head, breast, and tail with chestnut shoulders and underparts whose yellow eyes are encircled by a yellow circular ring, despite the fact that females are larger than males. A mature Fish Eagle has a black back and black wings that can spread to a height of more than two metres. It weighs roughly 3 to 3.6 kg. It has small tail feathers and large wings, fluttering with shallow beats and flying on flat wings when in flight.

Feeding Habits

According to its name, the African Fish Eagle mostly feeds on various kinds of fish, including catfish, lung fish, tilapia, Nile perch, and others. With distinctive hunting techniques like swooping dive, sighting and perching, talon grabbing, and take off, these stunning, magnificent eagles are expert hunters. They frequently perch on trees next to bodies of water, constantly watching the surrounding surfaces for fish movements. When they spot their meal, they dive down and use their strong talons to capture fish. Once they have their meal, they return to their perch or hang out by a towering, strong tree.

Vocalization

Their calls are charming and have a distinctive, powerful, strong sound of quick pitch changes, with the last three notes accelerating and decreasing. Additionally, pairs duet, in which one calls wi and the other answers right away; they also have a low nasal sound, ahnk-ank-ank-ank. In Uganda’s national parks, they are a stunning sight with their piercing calls and aerial acrobatics. In addition, when they forage for their next meal, their unique call resonates throughout the African terrain.

Nesting habits

The African Fish Eagle uses branches and sticks to build enormous nests. These nests are typically found on cliff ledges or in big trees close to streams. Amazingly, a couple of African Fish Eagles build new nesting materials into the same nest each year, using it as their home. Repeated “add-ons” can cause these nests to grow very large over time. Imagine these magnificent eagles, a real tribute to their flexibility and dedication to their habitats, poised in their magnificent nests and looking out over the lake.

Breeding Season

In Uganda, the African Fish Eagle’s breeding season normally takes place between the dry months of May and August. They build or renovate their nests, lay eggs, and engage in courtship displays throughout this season. Typically, the female lays one to three eggs, which are then alternately incubated by the parents. After hatching, the chicks receive careful attention until they can fly and take on independence.

These spectacular eagles’ range is influenced by a number of natural aspects, including the existence of rivers, wetlands, dense forests, and water bodies. Since fish are the main source of food for these magnificent birds, they always favour areas with permanent water sources. They are equally dispersed throughout Uganda’s main rivers and lakes, including the Nile River and the shores of Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake Mburo, Lake Edward, and Lake George.

These eagles can also be seen in the following national parks: Lake Mburo National Park, particularly on the lakeshores, tree canopy, or soaring above the waters; Muchison Falls National Park along the Nile Delta, perched on towering trees on the boat cruise; and Queen Elizabeth National Park, where they soar along the Kazinga Channel. Therefore, to name a few, keep an eye out for their imposing presence.

In order to see these dazzling African Fish Eagles in their natural environments, birdwatchers should consider signing up for guided birdwatching tours. These tours offer an unforgettable opportunity to learn about the behaviours, calls, and hunting techniques of these magnificent birds in Uganda’s top birding destinations, including Muchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, and others.

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