WATCH | How these winged pirates are the soundtrack of Africa
Their distinctive call carries across the plains. Providing the soundtrack to many safari adventures, African fish eagles have come to symbolise the spirit of Africa.
Sometimes, the birds pair up with a hippo, whose low, booming groans complement the eagle’s high-pitched, melodic voice.
Though they make a surprisingly pleasant duet, don’t let this harmony fool you. African fish eagles can be vicious to other creatures.
Found only in sub-Saharan Africa, these birds of prey have reigned from the skies for centuries, inhabiting the planet even longer than primates.
As their name suggests, they eat mainly fish, and occupy trees overlooking large bodies of freshwater such as the Orange River, Okavango Delta, and Lake Malawi. Swooping down, the eagles snatch prey out the water using their long, sharp talons.
This isn’t their only tactic. African fish eagles are kleptomaniacs and will steal another bird’s meal from right under its beak, earning them the title of pirates of the river.
When they’re not devouring water-bound creatures, they’re known to eat baby crocodiles, ducks, and even young monkeys.
Despite its reputation, this apex predator is an icon in Africa and serves as the national bird of Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan. A symbol of strength, fish eagles also appear on many countries’ coat of arms.
Keep an eye out on safari and perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of this enchanting ruler of the rivers.