|At San Diego Zoo, USA|
(or Accipitriformes, q.v.)
|Light Green: nesting area|
The Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) is a medium-sized eagle in the bird family Accipitridae which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as buzzards, kites and harriers. It is the only member of the genus Terathopius and probably the origin of the "Zimbabwe bird", national emblem of Zimbabwe.
The Bateleur eagle is a common resident species of the open savanna country in Sub-Saharan Africa, though it also occurs in south-west Arabia. Total distribution size is estimated at 28,000,000 km2. It nests in trees, laying a single egg which is incubated by the female for 42 to 43 days, with a further 90 to 125 days until fledging. Bateleurs pair for life, and will use the same nest for a number of years. Unpaired birds, presumably from a previous clutch, will sometimes help at the nest.
Global population is estimated at 10,000 - 100,000 individuals.
The Bateleur is a colourful species with a very short tail (ecaudatus is Latin for tailless) which makes it unmistakable in flight. The adult is 55 to 70 cm (21.5 to 27.5 in) long with a 175 cm (5.75 ft) wingspan. Weight is 1.8-2.9 kg (4-6.5 lbs). The male has black plumage except for the chestnut mantle and tail, grey shoulders, and red facial skin, bill and legs.
The female is similar to the male except that she is slightly bigger and has grey rather than black secondary flight feathers. Immature birds are brown with white dappling and have greenish facial skin. It takes them seven or eight years to reach full maturity.
The Bateleur is generally silent, but on occasions it produces a variety of barks and screams.
Bateleur eagles are among a group of raptors that secrete a clear, salty fluid from their nares whilst eating. According to Schmidt-Nielson's (1964) hypothesis, this is due to the general necessity for birds to use an extrarenal mechanism of salt secretion to aid water reabsorption.
"Bateleur" is French for "Street Performer"  which included performers such as tight-rope walkers. This name implies the bird’s characteristic habit of rocking its wings from side to side when flying, as if catching its balance.
In some countries, outside of its natural distribution, the Bateleur is occasionally known as the "Conifer Eagle" or even "Pine Eagle", since its feathers somewhat resemble a conifer cone when it fluffs itself up.
In 2009, the Bateleur was placed in the Near-Threatened IUCN Red List Category due to loss of habitat, pesticides, capture for international trade and nest disturbance. Decline of the species is suspected to have been moderately rapid over the past three generations. Current conservation efforts are unknown.
A female perched on a gloved hand in Disney's Animal Kingdom
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Terathopius ecaudatus|
- BirdLife International (2012). "Terathopius ecaudatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- The Legend of The Zimbabwe Bird
- Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D. A. (2001) Raptors of the world. London: Christopher Helm.
- Cade, T.J. and L. Greenwald 1964. Nasal Salt Secretion in Falconiform Birds. The Condor, Vol.68, No.4, p.338-350
- Barlow, Wacher and Disley Birds of The Gambia ISBN 1-873403-32-1
- Ferguson-Lees, Christie, Franklin, Mead, and Burton. Raptors of the World. London: Christopher Helm, 1999. ISBN 0-7136-8026-1.