Mike Unwin
United Kingdom GB
Aug 13, 2014 August 13, 2014

Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

Categories: African Wildlife, Birds

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)

You needn’t be a serious birder to recognize the yodeling yelp of this striking raptor. Often described as the sound of Africa, the African fish eagle evokes images of lazy rivers and palm-fringed lake shores, often in duet with the grunting of hippos. And the bird itself, in all its black, white and chestnut finery, is equally unmistakable.

5 Fascinating Facts:

  • The African fish eagle is not a ‘true’ eagle but belongs to the Haliaeetus genus of sea eagles, alongside seven other species worldwide that include the American bald eagle and the Eurasian white-tailed eagle. This is one of the most ancient genera among all living birds. And it is a sight to behold.
  • African fish eagles are kleptoparasites, which is to say they habitually steal prey from other species. Common victims of this piratical behaviour include goliath herons and saddle-billed stork.
  • A fish eagle’s toes are coated in sharp barbs, called spiricules, which consequently help it to grasp fish and other slippery prey.
  • Incidentally, fish are not the only item on the menu of this versatile predator. In addition, other prey includes ducks, terrapins, crocodiles, small waterfowl and even – in the soda lakes of East Africa – flamingos.
  • This bird’s conspicuous nature and charismatic presence ensure it figures prominently in the folklore and heraldry of several nations. Therefore you will find it on the coat of arms of Namibia, Zambia and South Sudan.
  • A Bird's Eye View

    If we've piqued your curiosity and you want to see the African fish eagle in all its finery, consider exploring Africa on safari. You will likely fall in love with the the exotic beauty of Africa and its beautiful wildlife. For more information on SafariBookings' tour options, go here. We will be most happy to answer any question you may have.