Do African Fish Eagles Screech?

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Do African Fish Eagles Screech?

The African Fish Eagle is known for its distinctive, loud, and piercing calls, which are often described as a series of screams or yelps. These calls are a part of the bird’s territorial display and can be heard from a considerable distance around African waterways.

The Iconic Call of the African Fish Eagle

The call of the African Fish Eagle is a recognizable “wheeee-ah-kleeuw-kleeuw-kluuu” sound, which is a series of screams or yelps. This call is often described as haunting, evocative, and melodic, and it is a characteristic sound of the African wilderness. The call serves several purposes, including:

  1. Territorial Display: The African Fish Eagle uses its loud call to mark and defend its territory, warning other birds to stay away.
  2. Communication: The call is used to communicate with other members of the species, such as mates and offspring.
  3. Mate Attraction: The distinctive call is also used to attract potential mates during the breeding season.

The Appearance and Hunting Habits of the African Fish Eagle

do african fish eagles screechImage source: African fish eagle above water by Mehmet Karatay

The African Fish Eagle is a large bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to 2.4 meters. It is found throughout Africa, south of the Sahara Desert, and is particularly common in and around the Rift Valley lakes. The bird is known for its striking appearance, with a milk-white head and tail, dark eyes, yellow cere, and chocolate brown back.

The African Fish Eagle is a specialized fish hunter and is often seen swooping low over the water to pluck a slippery fish from near the surface. It perches for hours in a well-placed spot, scouting for potential prey, waiting for an opportunity. The bird has developed large, broad wings to generate lift and extremely long, rather slender talons to catch and carry fish. However, it is also known to gather food from a variety of other sources, including monitor lizards, rodents, scrub hares, snakes, and even carrion.

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The Social Behavior and Nesting Habits of the African Fish Eagle

The African Fish Eagle is a social bird and often forms long-term pair bonds. The birds build large nests out of sticks and branches, usually in a tree or on a cliff ledge, and use the same nest year after year, adding new nesting material to the existing structure. After several years of these “add-ons,” the nests can become quite large, with some measuring 6 feet long and 4 feet deep.

The Cultural Significance of the African Fish Eagle

The African Fish Eagle is the national bird of three nations: Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan. Its loud, distinctive call is an iconic sound of Africa and is often used to signify the presence of water bodies in the vicinity. The bird’s striking appearance and unique hunting behavior have also made it a popular subject for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.

In conclusion, the African Fish Eagle is a remarkable bird that is known for its distinctive, loud, and piercing calls, which are an integral part of the African wilderness. Its appearance, hunting habits, and social behavior have also made it a beloved and culturally significant species in the region.

References:
– African Fish-Eagle Icthyophaga vocifer – eBird
– Wild Serenade: African Fish Eagles’ Call Echoes in the Wilderness – YouTube
– African Fish Eagle – Southern Africa Bird Guide – Kruger National Park
– African Fish-eagle | The Peregrine Fund
– Know your African Wildlife: Fish Eagles – Edward Selfe Photo Safaris.