African Fish Eagle | Birdlife | Wild Safari Guide

Meet the African fish eagle

African Fish Eagle

The unmistakable sound of the African fish eagle is part and parcel of the call to visit the shores of the continent. No wonder it features as the national bird and in the coat of arms of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and South Sudan and is at home close to water throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

With spiricules at the end of its feet, the bird can grab hold of fish and other prey (other birds, smaller mammals, and even baby crocodiles) up to ten times its body weight. If it can’t lift the prey into the air, it will continue to fly at very low until it can get to firmer ground.

Even though it is a prolific hunter, the African fish eagle is not above stealing food from other species. This includes snatching prey from the goliath heron and also feasting on carrion. The African fish eagle numbers around 300,000 birds and is therefore regarded as ‘Least Concern’ when it comes to its conservation status.

More birdlife in africa

The Southern ground-hornbill is the largest hornbill species in the world and is found nowhere else in the world other than in Africa. It calls the woodlands and Savannahs of the continent home. 

Appearing on the postage stamps of several African countries, the yellow-billed stork occurs all across the continent south of the Sahara, as well as in Madagascar. Their favoured habitat is in and around water. 

The white-backed vulture is part of the Old World vultures that include hawks, kites, eagles, and buzzards. Soaring over the Savannahs and woodlands of Africa, its population is increasingly under threat.

The lilac-breasted roller, with an olive coloured crown and mantle, is indeed one of the perching pretties of Africa. Unofficially, it carries the status as the national bird of Kenya.

Popular destinations Across Africa

The Okavango Delta is the best place to spot special species such as the wattled crane, lesser jacana, slaty egret, herons, larks and babblers.

With the Kafue, Luangwa and Zambezi Rivers providing sustenance, beautiful birds like the African pitta and shoebill stork will be a thrill to the searching eyes of birders.

For those keen on records, Kenya provides the opportunity to spot more than 300 species in any given day—the record is 342 in 24 hours.

The pristine coastline is home to coastal migrant waders, while further afield the red and blue double collared sunbirds, mangrove kingfisher, tiny greenbul, and olive-headed weaver can be observed.

The Kruger National Park is indeed a birders paradise with more than 500 species, including various raptors and vultures as well as rare migrants such as Dickinson’s kestrel, Southern hyliota and Bohm’s spinetail. 

African fish eagle in kenya