Birds of Prey

Given all the birds of prey in Africa, the offering here is regrettably sparse. Although many of the birds are quite large, they also tend to occupy the tops of tall trees and fly at great heights. Thus, too often the photograph shows only a small silhouette that is barely recognizable, if at all. Having said that, I did manage to capture a few.

One of the most commonly seen birds of prey is the African fish eagle, a majestic bird somewhat similar in appearance to the American bald eagle. Fish eagles inhabit tall trees overlooking bodies of water. As their name implies, they feed primarily on fish, swooping down and taking those that swim too close to the surface. The fish eagle's frequent screeching call is one of the distinctive sounds of Africa.

There are a number of other eagles in Africa as well, including the commonly seen tawny eagle and the giant martial eagle (not pictured) with a six-foot wingspan and the ability to take small antelopes and impala calves.

It is probably impossible to go to any game area in Africa without seeing vultures and Marabou storks. They are everywhere, and along with hyenas are the primary recyclers of dead animals. Although well known for their reputation as scavengers, most vultures are also capable of hunting live animals. At large kills, there is a distinct pecking order among the vultures, with smaller species often having to wait to the side while their larger cousins have their fill. Vultures' heads are typically devoid of feathers, allowing them to reach deep inside of carcasses for food. At night, or when chased off a carcass by larger animals, vultures will congregate in a nearby tree, making it almost appear that they grow on trees. Their presence in trees or circling overhead is a clear sign to other animals that a kill is nearby. For a good view of vultures in action, those with a strong stomach can go to the Dead Elephant page.

Related Pages: Birds (Main Page), Hornbills (my favorites) and Waterbirds.