|Ayres's hawk-eagle Range|
Aquila ayresii (Gurney 1862)
Ayres's hawk-eagle (Hieraaetus ayresii), also referred to as Ayres' eagle, is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It is native to African woodlands. Its name honors South African ornithologist Thomas Ayres.
The adult male has blackish upperparts which are mottled with white, and usually has a white forehead and supercilium. The upper-wing coverts are similar. The tail is ashy grey with a broad black tip and three to four narrower dark bars. Primary feathers and secondary feathers are black. The underparts are white, with heavy dark brown spots and blotches on the breast and belly, becoming sparser on thighs and vent. The legs are pure white. The under-wing coverts are brown marked with white, the under side of flight feathers is dark and heavily barred lacking any noticeable grey patch. The eyes are yellow to orange, the cere and feet yellow, the bill is bluish horn coloured becoming paler towards the base, with a black tip. The males are smaller than the females which are also darker and usually more densely spotted on the underparts, and have s smaller amount of white on the forehead and supercilium. There are two phases, the normal as described above and a melanistic phase, which is mostly black with white markings.
Distribution and movements
In the rainy season moves out of denser and taller deciduous woodlands of central Africa into more open tree savanna further south, and probably into coastal East Africa; as the rains cause the leaves to emerge turning woodland into forest and tree savanna into woodland. It may then enter towns in South Africa to prey mainly on doves and feral pigeons. A similar north to south movement is expected in west Africa, where species has been recorded as a vagrant west to Senegal and Gambia, albeit unconfirmed.
Ayres's hawk-eagle is a bird hunter, almost to the exclusion of any other type of prey, especially doves and pigeons,it soars high above the ground to search for prey. Once a bird has been singled out, the eagle stoops to intercept it in mid air. Other than birds it has been recorded as catching a few mammals including bush squirrels, and fruit bats.
Ayres's hawk-eagle is a monogamous, territorial solitary nester. The nest consists of a platform of a twigs and sticks, lined with green leaves and typically concealed in the fork within a well-leafed, large tree. Eggs are laid from April to September, peaking in April and May. A single egg is laid, female is almost solely responsible for incubation which takes about 43 days, the male brings her food every two to three days. The chick is fed almost daily, fledging at about 73 days old and becoming fully independent from its parents approximately three months after fledging.
Although Ayres's hawk-eagle is an uncommon bird throughout its range, it is classified as Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN, due to its large range and its numbers, while small, appearing stable at the present time.
- "Hieraaetus ayresii (Ayres's Hawk-eagle, Ayres's Hawk Eagle, Ayres's Hawk-Eagle)". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- Newman, K (1998) Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers. ISBN 1868127680.
- Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael (2003). Whose Bird? Men and Women Commemorated in the Common Names of Birds. London: Christopher Helm. p. 33. ISBN 0 7136 6647 1.
- "Ayress Hawk-Eagle (Hieraaetus ayresii)". Planet of Birds. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- "Aquila ayresii (Ayres' hawk-eagle, Ayres' eagle)". Iziko: Museums of South Africa. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
- (Ayres's hawk-eagle = ) Ayres' eagle - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds
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