South Africa is known the world around for its abundance of wildlife, not least of all its many birds. In fact, there is an established avi-tourism industry that invites birding enthusiasts from all over the world to indulge in top-class bird-watching.
The landscape is made up of freshwater lagoons, grasslands that have been flooded, dense forests, marshes, acacia woodlands and tidal estuaries. These provide the natural habitat of choice for a number of birds; most notably the Knysna Turaco, Palmnut Vulture, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Rudd’s Apalis, African Broadbill, Woodward’s Barbet, Delegorgue’s Pigeon, Livingstone’s Turacos and Southern Banded Snake Eagle.
Due to its being such a popular birding destination, KwaZulu-Natal has implemented a number of initiatives in order to improve the birding experience for locals and visitors. There is the Zululand Birding Route, which is focussed on Eshowe, the home of the Dlinza Forest. This forest has a boardwalk on which visitors can meander to the canopy and enjoy sighting Delegorgue’s Pigeon, Grey Cuckooshrike, Crowned Eagle and Spotted Ground Thrush.
African Fish Eagle
The African Fish Eagle is a fairly large eagle. It has a distinctive black, brown, and white plumage.
Although, as its name suggests, it feeds extensively on fish, in some areas it preys on flamingoes and other water birds. It is also known to eat carrion and is classified as a kleptoparasite (it steals prey from other birds). Goliath Herons are known to lose a percentage of their catch to Fish Eagles. Their main diet is fish, sometimes dead, but mostly caught live. Catfish and lungfish are caught most frequently. Larger prey are eaten on the ground next to the water.
The African Fish Eagle has two distinct calls. In flight or perched, the sound is something like the American Bald Eagle. When near the nest its call is more of a ‘quock’ sound – the female is a little shriller and less mellow than the male. So well known and clear is the call of this bird that it is often known as ‘the voice of Africa’. The African Fish Eagle is usually seen in pairs inside and outside the breeding season, even sharing kills made by either of them. They spend more time perched than flying, and usually settle for the day by 10am, having made their kill, although they will kill at any time of the day.
It is most frequently seen sitting high in a tall tree from where it has a good view of the stretch of river, lakeshore or coastline, which is its territory. Near a lake with an abundant food supply, a pair may require less than a square mile of water to find enough food, whereas next to a small river, they may require a stretch of 15 miles or more. Some tend to move around to avoid the wettest weather, whereas others stay where they are all year round.
Where they are found
Widespread in Southern Africa. It is particularly common in and around some of the Rift Valley lakes.
Source: SA Venues & Kruger National Park