An African Crowned Eagle breeding pair have successfully hatched a chick at Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate in October this year (2014).
African Crowned Eagle is the most powerful eagle in Africa. It weighs in at about 4kg but is capable of killing prey of up to 20kg. Favourite prey items are smaller mammals though, such as monkeys and small antelope. They also favour game birds such as guineafowl and francolin. Although they have been known to take domestic pets, this is a rare occurrence. The Likweti Estate pair are in an ideal position with plenty of food readily available without having to fly far to find it and pets should not be on the menu. They are strictly territorial and there would only be one pair on Likweti Estate.
Their nest structure is enormous and they choose the largest tree within their territory for their home, built in the main fork. It is constructed of large sticks and has a hollow at the top which they line with green leaves. Egg-laying takes place in August and incubation is entirely by the female. The male brings food to her during this period and also when the chick has hatched but is too small to be left alone. Normally there are two eggs but only one chick will survive. Incubation takes about 50 days and the nestling will remain on the nest for about 110 days. During this time it is fed entirely by the female on food brought to the nest by the male. Once the chick has its first flight it remains dependent on its parents for another 9 – 11 months. Thus breeding is only possible every alternate year, unless the young bird meets with tragedy during the fledgling period.
Text by Peter Lawson.