Game Warden

Who has seen a crowned eagle?

34 posts in this topic

Have you? If so, where and when? Was it in flight? Juvenile or adult? Share your stories and images.

 

Matt

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Posted (edited)

I've seen them a few places. There's a nest in Ngong Forest, and if you're patient, sightings there can be very good. Seen them over Nairobi National Park as well (probably the same pair). Aberdares is good too. I believe the Loita Hills are good, but I've never seen one there (only been there twice in my life). There's one which is sometimes seen, surprisingly, in Naboisho! They suspect it comes either from Ol Doinyo Rinka to the North or from the Siana/Loita hills to the South East.

 

And I know Simon Thomsett, whose life has been dedicated to rehabilitating raptors. He's had a few Crowned Eagles. He's had one pair for many years, Rosey and Girl (he named him Rosey before he new its gender), who he cannot release because they are imprinted and potentially very dangerous.

 

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This is Memsahb, a female that killed a rabid dog which had attacked Simon's staff and some other birds. She was released on Ol Doinyo Laro. This was taken when Simon was still based on the Hopcraft's Ranch on Athi-Kapiti (2007).

 

 

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Simon with Rosey just before the cataract surgery. Simon was very nervous it wouldn't go well and that Rosey would be completely blind.

 

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Human Opthamologist Dan Gradin, who performed many cataract surgeries on a daily basis at Kikuyu Eye Hospital, was brought in to do the operation. Here he is removing a protein (fibrin) build-up from the surface of the eye. Intense! This was the first ever cataract surgery on an eagle in the world. It has been done on large owls before, but never on an eagle. Making history.

 

 

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Rosey recovering after the op. He was still quite heavily drugged and docile. Normally only Simon can handle him when he's fully awake. The operation went well and he got about 60% of his vision back, but he's not quite the same as he was before his cataracts started to get bad. He's still a real character, though. And watching Simon interact with him and Girl is a real pleasure.

(notice that Rosey has shat on my shirt in his drugged stupor. I almost didn't want to wash the shirt after that!)

The photos of Rosey's cataract surgery were taken in 2008.

 

My girlfriend and I still go and visit Simon when we can. He's now based at Sarah Higgins' farm on Lake Naivasha, where she has an Owl Sanctuary. So they work together rescuing Owls and other raptors. Some of them are able to be released, while others are not due to various reasons. Girl and Rosey still mate often, but it's been a while since their eggs successfully hatched, so Simon now plans to incubate the next one on his own.

Edited by armchair bushman
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Posted (edited)

gallery_6003_401_137235.jpg

 

This one I saw in Meru National Park, Kenya, in September 2006. Crowned eagles can easily be confused with martial eagles… especially juveniles like the one above. The speckled legs are the giveaway.

 

 

 

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This adult I saw at Ishaqbini, Kenya in July 2011. I am 90% certain that this is a crowned eagle, not a martial eagle. A frontal view would confirm it, but unfortunately I could get a frontal photograph. I saw it fly away and was able to determine that it was a crowned eagle… but I could be mistaken. @@Rainbirder, @@armchair bushman Help?

Edited by Safaridude
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hi .

i saw this eagle in laikipia when where staying at el kerama .thing it might be the right eagle it has a speckly tummy,post-21274-0-57251000-1394400876_thumb.jpg

post-21274-0-95348800-1394400891_thumb.jpg

(feel free to delete if its not)

julie

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@@Safaridude, your image from Meru does look like an immature Crowned Eagle. However, your Ishaqbini image is almost certainly a Martial Eagle. The lack of any yellow on the cere and bill, the white tibial feathers, and the general stance tells me Martial. I stand to be corrected if you tell me that you saw brown barring on its chest/wings when it took off.

 

@@JD5000, your image from El Karama looks like an immature Martial Eagle. It's beginning to get some spots on the abdomen, the wing feathers are very dark, the bill and cere are very grey. And nearest true forest to El Karama is either Ngare Ndare, Mukogodo, or Mt Kenya, all of which are rather far. It's not beyond the realms of possibility, however, that a crowned eagle would be seen on El Karama - just not very likely.

 

Immature Martials and Crowned Eagles, when perched, can be very difficult to distinguish. I am not saying 100% that the images above are what I think they are - I am always ready to admit error. I have just tried to look at the evidence available from the images and descriptions.
When they're on the wing, they're more easily distinguished by underwing markings and wing shape/size. Martials, being savannah birds, have huge wingspans. Crowned eagles, being true forest species, have short, fat wings for manoeuvring through the trees

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@@armchair bushman

 

Thanks for that! Now, I am doubting myself on the 2nd eagle (from Ishaqbini). When it took off, it looked like a crowned eagle... but it could have been the Malarone!

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@Safaridude, your image from Meru does look like an immature Crowned Eagle. However, your Ishaqbini image is almost certainly a Martial Eagle. The lack of any yellow on the cere and bill, the white tibial feathers, and the general stance tells me Martial. I stand to be corrected if you tell me that you saw brown barring on its chest/wings when it took off.

 

I was going to say the same thing but for a different reason - the wings are about the same length as the tail in your picture and in an imm Crowned Eagle, tail should be much longer?

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yes, @@Anita is right about the tail/wing length comparison as well.

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I've started a new topic specifically to discuss visual differences between the Martial Eagle vs Crowned Eagle here.

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:lol: thanks for that will just have to go back and try harder to find one. Didn't know there was a sanctuary for owls that would of been good to go see .we saw loads of birds in navaisha but to far off to take piccies . that big picture /bird is fantastic never really bothered with the birds till this year when our driver was very knowledgeable about the birds.

julie.

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@@JD5000 it's great to hear you had a knowledgeable guide who could help you find pleasure in the "small stuff" between sightings of big 5, etc. The mark of a quality guide. Most average safari tourists to Kenya (and other parts of Africa) don't come expecting to see birds (much less get excited about them). But a good guide can brighten the dull (sometimes very long) periods between lions and elephants with great birding. You'll never STOP seeing birds. And after you see your first Lilac Breasted Roller in flight or your first Martial Eagle on the hunt, you'll be hooked.

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@@armchair bushman met a colleague/friend of yours while trekking Gorillas in Ruhija, Bwindi- very passionate and knowledgable about his birding.

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@armchairbushman .

in flamingo lodge in nakuru they leave you a long list of animals like they do elsewhere but also the list of birds is 2 /3 pages long a lovely couple we spoke to had found over 200 different birds ..

the lilac roller is buetiful but even the starlings with there glossy blue shine i wish we had them over here .and so many different kingfishers .

if you ever go into the fairview hotel in nairobi they have a wall of bougonville and its full of tiny little birds like the little bee birds .

julie

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@@Anita, yes he mentioned that he met you there! He's the most bird-obsessed person I know. But also just extremely passionate about all wildlife in general. His enthusiasm is contagious. He was excited to have met you and Squack.

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Can I ask a silly question pse? We saw a large brown eagle at the top of a tree. Now I can't recall the name of the eagle but Tsile the guide says its a typical bird of that "name". (Which I can't recall) the bird is typically big of head and with a short tail. Tsile says the eagle usually sits at the top of the tree. Does that little info help identify that eagle?

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@@Anita, yes he mentioned that he met you there! He's the most bird-obsessed person I know. But also just extremely passionate about all wildlife in general. His enthusiasm is contagious. He was excited to have met you and Squack.

Yes he was damn impressive with his birding.

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Can I ask a silly question pse? We saw a large brown eagle at the top of a tree. Now I can't recall the name of the eagle but Tsile the guide says its a typical bird of that "name". (Which I can't recall) the bird is typically big of head and with a short tail. Tsile says the eagle usually sits at the top of the tree. Does that little info help identify that eagle?

Sounds very much like a Tawny Eagle.

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Posted (edited)

I'm sorry guys but I'm afraid that all of the above images (except those in post 2) are of Martial Eagles.

Forget about plumage colour, markings or soft parts and focus on the big picture.

 

These are two very different birds. Crowned Eagle is a large, very powerful forest eagle which habitually targets large and often dangerous prey. It is a stealth hunter that hunts usually from a perch in generally fairly closed woodland below the forest canopy. To airlift mammal prey it needs a substantial wing area but long wings are a hindrance within the forest sub-canopy so Crowned eagles have fairly short but VERY broad rounded wings and a long tail which helps them steer between branches. When seen in flight a Crowned Eagle is usually in a heavy laborious flapping flight through the forest sub-canopy but, like many forest eagles they also soar high above the forest (not to hunt but to mark territory) at which time they can be quite vocal.

 

Martial Eagle is also a large powerful eagle with a massive wing area. However it achieves its large wing area by having very long wings which are not that broad. It doesn't have to jink in and out between branches in a forest sub-canopy as it hunts over open ground and in open woodland -so it has long wings but doesn't need a long tail. Martial Eagles usually hunt from an aerial vantage point and so spend a large part of the day soaring on thermals.

 

Both these eagles perch in trees but Martial Eagle picks easy-to-access, often dead branches on the tops of trees in the open. Crowned Eagles almost always perch on stout branches in the sub-canopy in closed woodland.

 

The overhead flight profile of these two eagles is very different but so is the appearance of perched birds. The folded short wings of Crowned Eagles falls very short of the end of the long tail. In a perched Martial Eagle the folded wings are very long and reach the end of the tail.

 

 

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Note how in the Martial Eagle image above the folded wingtips are essentially level with the end of the tail.

 

 

 

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In the Crowned Eagle above the folded wings are rounded and fall well short of the end of the long tail.

 

 

 

To give an idea of how powerful Crowned Eagles are here is an image taken in the Langata Forest area of Nairobi National park.

Initially I was unsure as to the nature of the prey but it seems this is a young Bushbuck.

9473382117_92310b5fa2_o.jpg

Edited by Rainbirder
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Saw this Immature Crowned Eagle yesterday afternoon not too far from the nesting site in Ngong Forest Sanctuary (in Nairobi). The parents had deliberately partially destroyed the nest in an effort to kick the young one out. It (the rangers keeping track of it weren't yet sure of the gender) hatched around September last year and has already been quite successful at hunting Suni as well as Syke's Monkeys.

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Have seen Crowned Eagle at Phinda Game Reserve when I worked there some years ago. More common in forest area than savanna.

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Had a great sighting of Crowned Eagles at Dzanga Bai. The eagles were flying high over the forest at the edge of the bai and attacking each other, screeching. A pretty amazing sight! Too far and fast for decent pictures though...

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I saw one recently in Kafue

 

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It was quite far away but it is amazing what you can retrieve from a digital photo these days

 

post-43899-0-45672600-1443611799_thumb.jpg

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Posted (edited)

@@Rainbirder

 

What is this bird please? has same beak as the immature eagle in Armchair Bushman's photo. I took it in the Laikipia when I stayed at Sabuk, late June 2013.

 

FB 2 Sabuk raptor LRG 4290

 

 

ALSO, how to I post bigger photos? I'm part Geek, but today I'm feeling twitchy and dyslexic - thank you, deadline dementia - and this is more fun, but not working on stories is boosting my agita (Italian word for anxiety, stressed, whatever) into the ether...

 

Thanks!

 

Edited by Lala

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