We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an African Fish Eagle?

By Steve R.
Updated Mar 05, 2024
Our promise to you
AllThingsNature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AllThingsNature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Similar to a North American Bald Eagle, the African Fish Eagle is recognizable by its distinctive black torso and wings that contrast sharply with its white head and tail. Females weigh 7 to 8 lbs (about 3.2 to 3.6 kg) and are slightly larger than male counterparts, who tip the scales at 4 to 5.5 lbs (about 2 to 2.5 kg). The bird spans 25 to 30 inches (about 63 to 75 cm) in length. The eagle, which possess a yellow beak with a black tip, is common in Southern Africa and has such a distinctive sound that the bird is commonly referred to as “the voice of Africa.”

Known scientifically as haliaeetus vocifer, the African Fish Eagle sounds much like the North American Bald Eagle. The African Fish Eagle has two different calls, one for when it flies and another for when it perches. Males own more of a soft voice, while females are higher pitched in tone.

The birds live in nests made of sticks in tall trees near rivers, lakes, and dams. Some birds move around and build more than one nest to avoid wet weather, while other eagles are content to stay put. Nests are often 47 to 71 inches (about 120 to 180 cm) wide and 12 to 24 inches (about 30 to 60 cm) deep. As nests are often reused, they can grow up to 6 feet (about 1.8 m) wide, including all the added branches and twigs.

A female will lay up to three speckled eggs at time. Eggs take up six weeks to hatch. Females primarily incubate the eggs, while the males gather food. Both males and females tend to the nestlings after they are born. After two months, the young birds are able to feed themselves and within 75 days, they are able to fly.

The diet of the eagle mainly consists of small fish, including lungfish and catfish. The African Fish Eagle usually waits perched in a tree until it spots a fish in the water. Using its long, black claws, the bird will pick up the fish and carry it back to the nest to eat. If the eagle catches a fish weighing more than 4 lbs (about 1.8 kg), the bird will drag it to shore and eat it along the bank. Besides fish, the African Fish Eagle can eat water birds, tiny turtles, baby crocodiles, insects, and dead animals. The eagles are also kleptoparasite creatures, meaning that these opportunistic birds will often steal food already caught by other birds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an African Fish Eagle?

The African Fish Eagle is a large species of eagle found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, particularly near freshwater lakes, rivers, and coastal regions. It is renowned for its distinctive call, which is often considered symbolic of the African wilderness. This bird of prey primarily feeds on fish, hence its name, and has a striking appearance with a white head, chest, and tail contrasting against a dark brown body and wings.

How does the African Fish Eagle hunt for its food?

The African Fish Eagle is an adept hunter, known for its remarkable fishing technique. It soars over water bodies, using its keen eyesight to spot prey before swooping down with talons outstretched to snatch fish from the surface. Occasionally, it may also feed on waterbirds, small mammals, and carrion when fish are scarce.

What is the conservation status of the African Fish Eagle?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the African Fish Eagle is currently listed as Least Concern. This status indicates that the species is widespread and abundant, with no immediate threat of population decline. However, it remains essential to monitor their habitat for potential future risks such as pollution or overfishing.

Can the African Fish Eagle be found outside of Africa?

The African Fish Eagle is indigenous to Africa and is not naturally found in the wild outside of this continent. Its range is limited to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is a resident species, meaning it does not typically migrate. It thrives in a variety of aquatic environments, from coastal estuaries to large inland rivers and lakes.

What is the significance of the African Fish Eagle's call?

The call of the African Fish Eagle is one of the most iconic sounds of the African wilderness. It is a powerful and evocative sound that has been described as a stirring, far-carrying cry, often heard at dawn or dusk. The call plays a crucial role in territory establishment and maintenance, as well as in the bonding between mated pairs.

How do African Fish Eagles raise their young?

African Fish Eagles are monogamous and often mate for life. They build large nests in tall trees or on cliff edges near water. A pair typically raises one to three chicks per breeding season. Both parents are involved in incubation and feeding the young, with the chicks fledging at around 70 to 75 days old but remaining dependent on the parents for a further 3 to 4 months.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Rundocuri — On Feb 15, 2014

It was Talentryto, and I will never forget it. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me. I've been going back to the same spot, but I haven't seen him again yet.

By Talentryto — On Feb 14, 2014

I'm an avid birdwatcher myself Rundocuri, and I would love to see a bald eagle! I'm sure it was an awe-inspiring sight!

By Rundocuri — On Feb 13, 2014

This sounds like a beautiful eagle that is similar to the American bald eagle. Though they are not common in our area, I thought I had observed some eagles nests along a river in my town last summer. I was thrilled to be correct, because a few days ago I saw a bald eagle perched in a tree! It's is so wonderful to see one in its natural habitat.

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.