South African Raptors

Ahhh…where to start with the birds!  So many; so different.  I guess I’ll again go from the sublime to the ridiculous and begin with my favorites, the raptors…eagles, buzzards, vultures, owls.

According to my field guide there are 59 species of eagles, hawks and falcons; 9 species of vultures and 12 species of owls in South Africa.  Obviously I didn’t see all of them and my photos of several were too distant to blow up and publish.  Still, I felt very lucky to get images of the 15 I did get.

Bateleur eagle: The name, bateleur, is French for “street performer.”  The rocking motion of the bird in flight resembles a high wire walker keeping his balance.  A smaller eagle, we had several opportunities at these birds fairly close to the road.

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Martial eagle: The largest eagle in the area, about the same size as our golden eagle.

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African fish eagle: A smaller eagle but the favorite of the South Africans.  Many people have its unique call recorded as their cell phone ring.

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Steppe eagle: A medium-sized eagle, fairly rare in the area we visited.

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 Brown snake eagle: A small eagle found mostly in treed savanna.

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Tawny eagle: A medium-sized eagle, previously thought to be a small steppe eagle.

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Pale chanting goshawk: We saw lots of these, especially in the drier desert habitats.

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Lizard buzzard: Hawks are called “buzzards” in SA.  This one is unique in its pale feathering.

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Rock kestrel: Similar in coloration but much bigger than our kestrel.

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Eurasian hobby: A small falcon migrating in from Europe.

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Lappet-faced vulture: A huge vulture with a wing-span up to 9 ½ feet.

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White-backed vulture: A smaller, but more common vulture.

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Pearl-spotted owl: A very little owl.  This one was quite tame.

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Cape eagle owl: Much like out Gt. horned owl.

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Barn owl: This species is found all over the world except in polar and desert regions.

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