In the Gorge with Kloof Conservancy – the Crowned Eagles

2016-11-15 06:00
Walking in the reserve is safe – normal precautions apply when walking in isolated areas. Photo: supplied

Walking in the reserve is safe – normal precautions apply when walking in isolated areas. Photo: supplied

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FROM this month we feature some of the special treasures of Krantzkloof Nature Reserve and we start with its most iconic species, the African Crowned Eagle.

Whilst Crowned Eagles are under severe threat throughout Africa we are fortunate that they are thriving in eThekwini with many nest sites reported as active. In Krantzkloof alone there are five known nests and the most accessible one is at Ronald’s Kloof which provides spectacular viewing of the nest as well as the adults in flight. There is currently a young chick in the nest so your patience will be rewarded if you spend some time there and observe these magnificent birds.

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. 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.

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 which most people living near the gorge know well.

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. While awaiting food at the nest, both the female and the young call out in a penetrating, incessant cry.

The Ronald’s Kloof nest site is accessible from the Kloof Falls Picnic Site – follow the Molweni Trail for approximately 1km until you arrive at the Kloof Conservancy Bio-Guide information plate for the Crowned Eagle. - Supplied.

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