I have lots of favorite birds. One of them is the Long-crested Eagle. I tend to especially like birds that have a unique or unusual look and this bird definitely meets the criteria. This was another bird that I saw in the book but thought I would never have a chance to see in real life. I first saw one when visiting friends in the Copperbelt of Zambia which is in the north, but then I found one on a walk, just a kilometer from our home on the outskirts of Lusaka. Since then I have seen a few different ones and thus discovered that they are relatively common.
Lately I have been seeing one on my way to work, very near where I used to live, and I often wonder if it is the same one that I saw three years ago in that same vicinity. When I drive to work, I often pick up a co-worker who is walking and I pointed the eagle out to him. He asked me what it ate and I had to admit that I wasn’t sure. I only had a general knowledge that most birds of prey would eat small mammals and some prefer reptiles. According to Wikipedia this one eats mostly shrews and rodents. The area where this one has been perching is over a swampy sewage pond near farmland which is their preferred habitat according to the field guide: “woodland, plantations, and forest edges, especially near water.”
The pictures were taken in Kafue National park. The first one clearly shows the long crest which gives the eagle its name. I also love how it shows his talons which look quite formidable. I like the second picture for showing the white wing “windows” which are present on the upperwing and how much white is in the underwing, despite their plain brown appearance when perched. Another beautiful bird.
Photos by Ian Hoad.