26 Apr 2017

Verreaux's Eagle - Abha

Whilst birding the Abha area of southwestern Saudi Arabia on 31 March 2017, Phil Roberts and I came across an adult Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii flying along a steep cliff face. The bird remained on view for about five minutes before eventually alighting on the cliff itself. The bird was always distant but it was obvious that this was the species involved and I took several rather poor photos of it. This is only the second time I have seen the species in Saudi Arabia and it was a new species for Phil in the Kingdom. Verreaux's Eagle is a large mainly African bird of prey that lives in hilly and mountainous regions of southern and eastern Africa (extending marginally into Chad), and very locally in West Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the southern Middle East. It is one of the most specialized species of accipitrid in the world, with its distribution and life history revolving around its favorite prey species, the rock hyrax that make up 60% of its prey. When hyrax populations decline, the species can survive with mixed success on other prey, such as small antelopes, hares, young baboons, reptiles and other assorted vertebrates. They have an altitudinal distribution from sea level to above 5000m. Adults are sedentary while juveniles and immatures will disperse. The nest is a stick structure, up to 1.8m in diameter, usually located on a cliff ledge or cave, although trees and artificial structures are also used.
Verreaux’s Eagle

Verreaux’s Eagle

Verreaux’s Eagle

Verreaux’s Eagle

Verreaux’s Eagle

Verreaux’s Eagle

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