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Home » Information » Martial Eagle in Uganda (“Polemaetus bellicosus”)

Martial Eagle in Uganda (“Polemaetus bellicosus”)

Martial Eagle

What to Know About the Martial Eagle in Uganda?

The Martial Eagle in Uganda is one of the African Uganda Birds seen during birding watching tours. It is the largest and strongest of African eagles. It is very powerful, capable to have enough power in one foot to break a man’s arm.

The martial eagle can be found in most of sub-Saharan Africa, wherever food is abundant and the environment favorable.

With a total estimated distribution of about 26,000 km2. The Accipitridae (hereafter accipitrids) family is by far the most diverse family of diurnal raptors in the world with more than 230 currently accepted species.

As a member of the booted eagle sub-family, Aquilinae, it is one of the roughly 15% extant species of the family to have feathers covering its legs.

How Does the Martial Eagle in Uganda Look Like?

Martial Eagle is the largest and strongest of African eagles. Upperparts are dark brown. Belly is white, streaked with black.

Underwing coverts are brown, with whitish flight feathers, finely streaked with black. Tail is white streaked with black.

It has dark brown head, neck, chin, throat and upper breast. It shows a small crest on crown. It has piercing yellow eyes.

Head is flat and broad. Bill is blackish with pale yellow base, and hooked. Long legs are feathered, white streaked with black.

Talons are strong and yellow. Usually, female is more streaked than male, and it is larger. Immature are paler above, and they have white plumage on the underparts. They reach adult plumage at about 7 years.

How Does the Martial Eagle in Uganda Sing and Make Calls?

Martial Eagle utters a weak whistling “hlueee-oh” high pitched, near the nest or when it is excited. It utters also a display call on a wing or from a perch, a clear series of “klee-klee-klee-kloeee-kloeee-kulee”.

When they see the food, young may make a ‘kwip” or a gulping ‘quolp”. But Martial Eagle is not a noisy bird.

How Does the Martial Eagle in Uganda Feed?

Martial Eagle feeds on birds (francolins, young bustards, and poultry), mammals such as small antelopes, some monkeys, young domestic goats and lambs.

It may eat also few snakes and large lizards. It feeds on availabilities of the area where is living and hunting.

Martial Eagle may hunt as well in flight as from a perch. It does most of its hunting from the soar. It kills or attacks, making a long slanting stoop at great speed, or making a gentle descent into an opening in the bush.

It may hunt from a perch, but rarely. Often, it kills surprising a prey in open land by the speed of its attack.

A pair may have a food area of about up to 50 square miles. They often hunt in one area during some days, and then, they move to another.

How Does the Martial Eagle in Uganda Nest?

Martial Eagle’s nest is located in trees, at height from 20 to 80 feet above the ground. It often chooses the largest tree of the area, to have a clear sweep off the nest.

Nest has a huge structure, 4 to 6 feet of diameter, and up to 4 feet thick), often broader on base than it is deep.

It is made with large wood sticks, and lined with green leaves. Nest may be used by several birds for many years.

How Does the Martial Eagle in Uganda Reproduce?

During the dry season, the female lays one single egg, chalky white to pale greenish blue, mainly in April to July. Incubation lasts about 45 days, by female, but male may sit on nest.

Female is not fed by male, and leaves the nest to feed. When it hatches, the chick is very weak, and becomes active after 20 days. Feathers begin to grow at 32 days, and the bird gets its plumage at 70 days.

Both parents feed the young, until it is 60 days old and well feathered. Then, it starts to tear up the prey alone.

At the beginning of fledging period, female remains near the nest and male brings preys during the first 50 days. After, she hunts and brings prey herself, and male rarely appears.

Female broods the chick the first two weeks, and after this time, only at night. At 100 days old, young make its first flight but returns to roost in the nest for some days, but after, it remains loosely attached to the nest site for some time, and it remains not too far during 6 months. This species produces 2 broods every three years, in the same nest.

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