Meyer’s Farm welcomes Verreaux’s Eagles
This year’s first Verreaux’s Eagle egg hatched during the early hours of Sunday, June 3.
AFTER an unsuccessful breeding season in 2017, Meyer’s Farm is delighted to inform the community that the first Verreaux’s Eagle egg hatched during the early hours of Sunday, June 3.
The female laid two eggs on April 18 and 22. The Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle’s incubation period usually lasts 44 to 46 days.
Following the second egg’s hatching is the three-day cainism (sibling aggression) period where the first hatchling kills its younger sibling (a phenomenon that is not fully understood but likely relates to survival of the fittest).
After this period, the surviving chick remains on the nest for at least three months where it undergoes rapid transformation from chick (first month) to eaglet (second month) to juvenile (third month). During the first month the female spends 95 per cent of her time tending to and safeguarding her chick, whilst, in the second month, this reduces to 60 per cent and, during the third month, to 15 per cent.
A quick and easy method to determine the gender of the bird is to note when it fledges for the first time. Males are lighter in weight, shorter in length and wingspan and may fly between 87 to 95 days whilst the females are heavier, taller in length and wingspan, and flies after 96 to 104 days.
Post-fledging, the juvenile spends an additional two months in its immediate nesting area, learning to fly, perch, roost, feed and be its eagly self. During its third month, its parent eagles aggressively harass them, teaching them combat skills to empower them to defend themselves.
When the juvenile finally leaves its natal territory, it’s referred to as an immature. It then has to learn how to hunt for itself. Its chance of survival in its first year away from parental care is very low (20 – 30 per cent). Factors adding to this low statistic include starvation, drowning, electrocution, motor vehicles, poison, persecution and habitat loss.
After surviving these factors, the immature roams from area to area, teaming up with others of the same age. It seeks its own home with, hopefully, an abundance of natural prey that usually consists of dassies, helmeted guinea fowls, rock rabbits, scrub hares, francolins, mongoose and tortoises