The Incredible Speed of the African Hawk-Eagle

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The Incredible Speed of the African Hawk-Eagle

The African Hawk-Eagle (Aquila spilogaster) is a medium-sized bird of prey known for its remarkable speed, reaching up to 150 mph. These powerful raptors are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of their ecosystems.

Appearance and Characteristics of the African Hawk-Eagle

The African Hawk-Eagle is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 22-26 inches in length and weighing 3.3-4 lb on average. They have a slim, hawk-like body and head, with distinctive white and black streaked underparts. The underwing feathers are predominantly white with a black edge, while the upper parts of the body are mostly blackish, with slight variations of white spots or brown areas. Juveniles have lighter feathers that darken over time, with predominantly brown feathers and rufous (brownish-red) coloration on the underparts, which turn black with age.

Male and female African Hawk-Eagles are similar in appearance, but females tend to have heavier markings on their feathers and are generally larger than males. These birds have bright yellow eyes and a permanent “frown” expression, a common trait among birds of prey.

The Incredible Speed of the African Hawk-Eagle

african hawk eagle SpeedImage source: African hawk-eagle by Charles J. Sharp

The African Hawk-Eagle is known for its incredible speed, which can reach up to 150 mph during a dive. This makes them formidable predators, capable of catching small to medium-sized mammals and birds, as well as reptiles and other prey. Their speed and agility allow them to maneuver quickly through the air, making them a dominant force in their environment.

Hunting Behavior and Habitat

African Hawk-Eagles are found across much of sub-Saharan Africa, including southern Ethiopia, southern Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, north-central Namibia, northern and eastern Botswana, and northeastern South Africa. They are highly territorial and will aggressively defend their nests, especially if they have eggs or juveniles.

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In flight, the African Hawk-Eagle appears as a mid-sized raptor with a small but well-protruding head, a longish tail, and wings that are neither particularly long nor broad. They tend to fly with powerful and shallow beats, and when gliding or soaring, their wings are well-spread, with their carpal points only slightly forward pressed.

The Role of the African Hawk-Eagle in its Ecosystem

As a top predator, the African Hawk-Eagle plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of its ecosystem. By preying on small to medium-sized mammals and birds, they help to control the populations of these species, preventing them from becoming overpopulated and disrupting the delicate balance of the environment.

Conclusion

The African Hawk-Eagle is a remarkable bird of prey, known for its incredible speed and agility. These powerful raptors are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and play a vital role in maintaining the balance of their ecosystems. With their distinctive appearance and impressive hunting abilities, the African Hawk-Eagle is a true marvel of nature.

References:
– Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: African Hawk-eagle Aquila spilogaster. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 3 Dec. 2021.
– Kemp, A. C., P. F. D. Boesman, and J. S. Marks (2020). African Hawk-Eagle ( Aquila spilogaster), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.afrhae1.01
– African Hawk-Eagle: The Ultimate Guide – Operation Migration. https://operationmigration.org/african-hawk-eagle-the-ultimate-guide/
– African hawk-eagle – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_hawk-eagle
– African Hawk Eagle – Oiseaux-Birds. https://www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-african-hawk-eagle.html