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Home » Information » Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda (“Hieraaetus wahlbergi”)

Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda (“Hieraaetus wahlbergi”)

What to Know About the Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda?

The Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda is one of the African birds of Uganda seen during Uganda birding safaris & Tours. It is a bird of prey that is native to queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda. It is named after the Swedish naturalist Johan August Wahlberg.

Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Wahlberg’s eagle is a medium-sized raptor, and the sexes are similar.

It is about 53–61 cm in length with a wingspan of 130–146 cm and a body mass of 437–845 g for males and 670–1,400g for females on average.

How Does the Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda Look Like?

The Wahlberg’s Eagle is polymorphic. The dark morph is the commonest form. It is dark brown overall.

The upper wing coverts are edged paler brown, whereas the flight feathers are dark brown. On the underwing, the flight feathers are paler grey-brown with narrow, darker brown barring.

The under tail is grey-brown and narrowly barred blackish. The head is dark brown, and we can see a nuchal crest, sometimes flattened.

The bill is black with yellow cere. The eyes are brown. The bare feet are yellow with black talons, whereas the legs are feathered dark brown.

The intermediate morph is similar to the previous but the head is often darker than the body. Flight feathers and tail are dark brown, whereas body and wing-coverts are paler brown or buffy.

On the underwing, secondaries and primaries show broad blackish tips. Some eagles may have white fringes to body feathers, or whitish breast, belly and vent.

The pale morph is the rarest. Head and neck are mainly creamy-white with blackish streaks on crown and around the eyes.

Rest of upperparts is dark grey-brown with broad whitish edges to feathers. Underparts and underwing-coverts are creamy-white with variable dark brown spotting or streaking. Flight feathers and tail are dark.

There is also a dark-headed form. Male and female have similar plumage, but the female is larger and heavier than the male.

The juvenile is indistinguishable from adults of respective morphs, but it has more conspicuous pale fringes to back feathers and upper wing-coverts. The crest is less visible.

How Does the Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda Sing and Make Calls?

The Wahlberg’s Eagle is mostly vocal during the breeding season. It gives a rapidly repeated yelping at nest as greeting “kyip-kyip-kyip”.

The display call is a mournful whistle “quieee-aow” given both perched and in flight.

How Does the Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda Feed?

The Wahlberg’s Eagle feeds mainly on small mammals (up to size of hare), reptiles (lizards and some snakes), birds (ranging from larks to Guinea fowls), amphibians, large insects (beetles and grasshoppers) and termites.

The insects are taken around grass fires but usually, it hunts from exposed or concealed perch in tree. However, more often, it soars and glides in the air, up to 25m above the ground.

Once the prey is located, it makes a fast stoop or a slow parachute descent. It “hangs” over the prey and loses height gradually before the final fast dive onto its victim.

Birds and bats are sometimes taken in flight. It also steals food from the Long-crested Eagle.

How Does the Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda Nest?

The nest-site is often in valley along a dry river-course. The small nest is placed in a fork below the canopy of tall tree such as baobab, acacia or eucalyptus.

Both adults build a platform with sticks, lined with green leaves, between 5 and 22m above the ground. It is often reused in several following years.

How Does the Wahlberg’s Eagle in Uganda Breed?

The breeding season takes place between July and November, and may vary according to the range. The Wahlberg’s Eagle is monogamous with strong, long-term pair bonds.

It performs aerial displays while calling loudly. The birds circle high in the air, soaring and calling. They also perform undulating sky-dance, and both mates typically grasp their talons in flight.

It breeds during the wet season. It is solitary nester and very territorial. Aggressive encounters may occur, even in flight.

How does the Wahlberg’s eagle in Uganda reproduce?

The female lays one, rarely two white eggs with reddish and brown markings. She incubates during 43-46 days, during which she is fed by the male.

It may relieve her for short periods. At hatching, the chicks have dark to pale brown down, according to the plumage morph.

They are fed by the female with the prey brought by the male. If there are two chicks, the smaller is killed by the elder one.

It fledges between 62 and 80 days after hatching, usually 70-77 days. This species produces a single brood per year.

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