|At a Glance|
|Wingspan||180cm (F) 165cm (M)|
|Mass||4.7kg (F) 4.1kg (M)|
|Conservation Status||Near Threathened|
They are not the largest of the African eagles but are considered the most powerful, as their legs are immensely strong and the talons are massively thick and wide, enabling the eagle to seize prey of up to 30kg.
The adult female is larger than the male. These birds have striking plumage; adult birds have rufous underwing coverts, a heavily mottled breast and belly and the primaries and secondaries are white with heavy black barring. The tail is long and barred and the wings are well-rounded, this shape increasing manoeuvrability, which is needed in the dense forests where they hunt.
The plumage of the juvenile and immature is strikingly different from the adult; creamy white, with a blonde head, darkly speckled flanks and legs and a heavily barred tail and underwing.
They are highly vocal and have a noisy, undulating display flight. The voice is a series of loud whistles that rise and fall in pitch. The male performs an elaborate rise-and-fall display over the forest canopy both during the breeding season and outside it as a territorial proposition. Displays consists of a series of steep dives and ascents, with a few wing-flaps at the top of each climb and descending circles and figures of eight whilst calling noisily. While awaiting food at the nest, both the female and the young call out in a penetrating, incessant cry.
In disposition, the crowned eagle is considered nervous, constantly alert and on edge, characteristics which are often associated with other forest-dwelling creatures.
Crowned Eagles eat mainly mammals, especially hyraxes, vervet monkeys and small antelope such as Blue Duiker. Studies done in the eThekwini area show that Hadeda Ibis also form part of the diet.
A large platform-nest is built in the fork of the tallest smooth-barked, forest tree in the area, often at the base of a ravine and is built mainly by the female. The same nest is often used over multiple breeding seasons. They have one of the longest breeding cycles of all birds, lasting up to 500 days.
One or two eggs are laid in September or October and are incubated for 49 days by the female. The male will deliver food to the female every 3 - 5 days. If two eggs hatch, the younger dies of starvation after being outcompeted for food or directly killed by the older sibling.
At about 110-115 days old the lone nestling typically clambers on to the branches surrounding the nest and takes its first flight, remaining reliant on its parents for food for 9-11 months longer before becoming fully independent.
It is a non-migratory raptor. They are territorial with a range between nests of a few kilometres. They lead a sedentary lifestyle, spending most of their adult years in the same area. Occurs from Guinea to South Africa.
They prefer forest habitats, dense woodland and forested gorges. They have adapted to building nests in alien eucalyptus plantations, most probably as a result of the destruction of indigenous forests.
Threatened, largely due to hunting by stock farmers and also the destruction of indigenous forest habitats.
There are three nest locations inside Krantzkloof and a number close by in the Nkuto Gorge, Everton Gorge, Hillcrest, Giba Gorge and the Stockville Road area.
The density of Crowned Eagles in the eThekwini area is above average and one of the highest in the world.
Increasing urbanisation and housing developments in the Upper Highway area are resulting in increased conflict between the Crowned Eagles and humans. The juveniles are particularly vulnerable as they fly near residential homes whilst learning to hunt.
There are 3 QR Code Labels for Crowned Eagles
Position 1 Molweni Trail at Ronald's Kloof
The cliff to the right of the QR Code position is known as Ronald's Kloof. Visit the Kloof Conservancy website for information on the history of the area: www.kloofconservancy.org.za/projects/memorial-park/history-of-memorial-park/
The nest is situated in a Forest Mahogany (Trichilia dregeana) next to the waterfall. This nest site has been in use for over 40 years and the nest has been rebuilt on a number of occasions.
This nest has consistently produced one chick per year over an extended period and is a popular tourist attraction for the reserve.
Position 2 Beacon Trail at The Cellar
The nest is situated across the gorge in line with the iNgolube Falls which are visible from this viewspot. You will not see the nest from this spot but you should see the eagles moving in and out of the nest site.
Position 3 iNgolube Falls (short deviation at Route Marker 18 on the Forest Trail)
The Crowned Eagles nest is situated in a Forest Mahogany in the forest immediately below the QR Code position - look carefully and you should find it! This is an excellent spot for also spotting Martial Eagles and even Fish Eagles.
Crowned Eagles hunt mainly from a perch just below the forest canopy, where they swoop down on their prey from above. At times they hunt in pairs, where the one distracts the prey, as with monkeys, by calling from above, while the mate makes an unexpected ambush strike from behind.