Raptors

Birds of Prey

©Roger de la Harpe
Verreaux's Eagle

Birds of prey are not always large birds. The little sparrow-hawk, the Lowveld’s smallest raptor, is the same size as a dove. Sightings of these birds are so fleeting that they can be confused with doves in flight.

Cainism, also known as siblicide, is demonstrated by a large number of predatory bird species. This is the phenomenon where adults lay two eggs, but the first to hatch is naturally the larger, which quickly outgrows its sibling. Having the advantage of size and strength over the late-comer, the older sibling aggressively pecks the younger to death, and thereby eliminates any competition for food, or other parental attentions. The second egg is simply laid as an insurance policy, should the first not hatch. A notorious ‘cainism’ perpetrator is the Verreaux’s Eagle.

African Fish Eagle

In South Africa, the African fish eagle is often seen in the Kruger National Park. It is widespread in Southern Africa and particularly common in and around some of the Rift Valley lakes....more

Bateleur Eagle

The bateleur eagle is the most famous of the snake eagles. Bateleur is French for ‘tightrope-walker’. This name was probably chosen because of its distinctive aerial acrobatics....more

Black Shouldered Kite

The black-shouldered kite is a small but distinctive bird of prey with grey and white plumage and a black shoulder patch....more

Hawk Eagle

The African hawk eagle is a medium to large eagle with a blackish upperpart. It is white below but heavily streaked with black, except on the legs. The trailing edge of the underwing is broadly black...more

Martial Eagle

The martial eagle is the largest of the African eagles. They are incredibly powerful and reputedly have enough power in one foot to break a man’s arm or knock an adult man off his feet. This eagle weighs almost 6.5 kg...more

Owls

Owls are divided into two main groups or families, the Strigidae and Tytonidae. The tytonids are screeching owls and include the grass and barn owls in southern Africa....more

Pygmy Falcon

The pygmy falcon is the smallest diurnal raptor, at around 20 cm in length. The pygmy falcon is white below and has a white face, with a grey head....more

Secretary Bird

The secretary bird is a bird of prey, but unlike other raptors, it has long a tail and legs. Its most distinctive feature is the 20 black crest feathers stuck behind its invisible ears. The bird gets its name from...more

Snake Eagles

The brown, Circaetus cinereus, and black-chested, Circaetus pectoralis, snake-eagles are common large raptors in the Lowveld and distinguished immediately by their large yellow eyes and square-shaped heads....more

The Jackal Buzzard

The jackal buzzard gets its English name from the call it makes, it sounds very similar to a black-backed jackal when calling....more

True Eagles

All the eagles belonging to the genus Aquila such as the Wahlberg’s and Tawny eagles are true eagles....more

Verreaux's Eagle

The Verreaux's eagle feeds primarily on rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) but will take a wide range of other mammalian prey including monkeys, young baboons, small antelope, squirrels and hares....more

Vultures

Vultures play a vital role in the bush – they clean up dead and decaying carcasses and thereby remove centres of disease....more

Wahlberg Eagle

The Wahlberg eagle can be found in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and northern Kwazulu Natal, and is quite common in the Kruger National Park....more

What is the Difference Between Birds of Prey?

Kites are named for their habit of hovering like kites when hunting. The Black-shouldered kite will hover at height while tracking its prey, before swooping down to catch the prey....more