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Martial Eagle | Polemaetus bellicosus

The Martial Eagle is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Accipitridae bird family group which includes birds such as Raptors, Old Vultures, Osprey.

The description for the Martial Eagle (Latin name Polemaetus bellicosus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Polemaetus bellicosus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 140 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 538. You will find a picture of the Martial Eagle on page 497.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Martial Eagle between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Martial Eagle is known in Afrikaans as Bre?koparend.

The Martial Eagle has a height of 83 cms and weighs around 3300 gms. The head is coloured brown while the bill is coloured black. The Polemaetus bellicosus has a brown coloured throat, yellow legs and a brown, grey coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is brown

Eyes are yellow

Bill is black

Legs are yellow

Throat is brown

Back is brown, grey

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The Martial Eagle strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

The Polemaetus bellicosus attacks smaller birds in flight and uses its sharp claws to break the bird's neck. Some of the birds are attacked in their nests while others are killed on the ground. The Martial Eagle eats the eggs of its victim.

This bird is a well known scavenger and rarely kills its own prey.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The Martial Eagle uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Martial Eagle is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 1 eggs and they are coloured white.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foligae.

The Martial Eagle is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

This bird is very common in most of the Southern African Forests

The bird is an urban dweller as well, being at home in parks, gardens and in old vacated buildings

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Martial Eagle is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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