Makatsa the black eagle moving on with new 'boyfriend' after baby daddy flies off

2019-07-31 13:43
Makatsa and her new 'boyfriend'. (Supplied: Garth Heydenrych)

Makatsa and her new 'boyfriend'. (Supplied: Garth Heydenrych)

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A new male black eagle seems to have made the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Johannesburg his new home.

This after the previous male, Thulani, disappeared at the beginning of June. He had been living in the gardens since 1988.

The gardens' female eagle, Makatsa,was left alone with a chick and had been raising it by herself.

But it didn't take long for Makatsa to find new love. A young male eagle was first spotted in the gardens on July 13. The two lovebirds have been seen flying together ever since.

According to Gerald Draper, chairperson of Black Eagle Project Roodekrans, the male could well become a fixture at the gardens.

"But we don't know what's going to happen. There is no previous published record of an adult black eagle changing her mate while attending to a chick on the nest. We are in a new space right now," Draper said.

But, according to Draper, the male has settled in well and helps to maintain the nest and feed the chick. He and Makatsa have also been seen mating.

"Our biggest concern was what would happen to the chick with a new male around. But Makatsa's maternal instincts are still very strong. He's made a half-hearted attempt to bring sticks to the nest and he hasn't shown any aggression towards the chick.

"The chick will be 7 weeks old on Thursday and is getting enough food. Right now, we're hoping that everything will be all right until it fledges, which is normally at 95 days."

New love, new nest?

Visitors to the gardens have seen the eagles building what appears to be a new nest, but Draper says it's too early to tell at this stage. 

"What people are seeing is the eagles bringing in sticks. That doesn't mean they're necessarily building a new nest. There is a lot of speculation going around. If they are building a new nest, that's nothing out of the ordinary. Eagles use different nests and they alternate over the years. 

"There used to be two nests next to the waterfall and they used to alternate between them. When Makatsa came to the gardens in 2016, she built a new nest." Nest building starts in earnest around February, Draper says. 

If the young male eagle chooses to stay, he will need a name, and the staff at the botanical gardens have been given this task. 

"They are quite chuffed about that," Draper says. 

The "Name the Chick" competition will still go ahead via the Northsider community newspaper, where the public is invited to suggest a name. This will take place at the end of August.

Black eagles have been breeding at the gardens since the 1940s and have become an institution to residents of Johannesburg.

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