Long-crested eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)
Sexes very similar. Dark plumage and a very distinctive long crest. In flight, a barred tail and large white wing patches are visible. The long-crested eagle has yellow eyes and white leggings. The body length is around 56 cm and the adult weight is around 1 kg.
Long-crested Eagle Diet
Up to 90% of the long-crested eagle's diet is made up of rodents, mostly being cane and vlei rats. This makes this eagle highly beneficial to farmers. The remaining diet is frogs, reptiles and insects.
Long-crested Eagle Breeding
The long-crested eagle is territorial and will call frequently in flight during courtship. Both sexes build the nest out of sticks, mid-canopy in a tree. They will use other raptors nests if available. The female lays 1 or 2 eggs. The female is fed by the male as she takes on the duty of incubating the eggs. The eggs are laid asynchronously and hatch asynchronously (not at the same time), this can be as much as 14 days apart.
The chicks fledge at around 53 days, but remain dependent on the adults for a further 60 to 90 days.
Long-crested Eagle Behaviour
The long-crested eagle is an ambush hunter. It will perch and swoop down on its prey. Often seen in pairs. This eagle likes to spend the heat of the day in dense cover.
Distribution and Habitat
The long-crested eagle is an eagle that prefers the forest edge and moist woodland with adjacent marshes, grassland and rivers. Found across Mpumalanga and along the coast down into the Eastern Cape.