Águila coronada: el majestuoso depredador del cielo africano.

Águila coronada: el majestuoso depredador del cielo africano

El águila coronada o águila coronada africana es un águila poderosa de la familia Accipitridae que incluye tanto a las águilas como a muchas otras aves rapaces. Apodada como el “águila más poderosa de África”, el águila coronada es un ave rapaz de gran longitud con una gran envergadura de alrededor de 1,8 m. Ocupando diversos hábitats que se extienden por gran parte del África subsahariana, el águila coronada es capaz de atrapar presas de 4 a 6 veces su peso.

águila coronada

águila coronada

¿Cómo es un águila coronada?

Las águilas coronadas suelen tener forma de águila, con alas redondeadas y pesadas, garras grandes y patas densamente emplumadas. Tienen caras pequeñas con grandes plumas con cresta hacia atrás, lo que les proporciona la apariencia ‘coronada’ del mismo nombre.

The eagle’s head itself is usually dark brown, the torso has dark upperparts and a striking spotted breast and thighs. Crowned eagles have long, striped tail feathers. Their bodies are quite lengthy compared to other eagles, but their overall length is perhaps exaggerated by their tail feathers.

Crowned eagles are nevertheless very large and powerful eagles with particularly strong thighs and are revered for being amongst the most beautiful of eagles in terms of their plumage.

Águila coronada africana, encaramada en un árbol en Kenia

African Crowned Eagle, perched in a tree in Kenya


How big is a Crowned Eagle?

Crowned eagles are amongst the world’s largest eagles, measuring 80 to 99 cm (31 to 39 in) in length. This places it as the fifth-longest eagle, mainly by merit of its long tail feathers and slick, long-lengthed form. It is not the largest eagle in Africa – that title goes to the Martial eagle – but it is allegedly the most powerful by virtue of the size of its prey, though there is some debate surrounding this.


How much does a Crowned Eagle weigh?

Adult Crowned eagles weigh around 3 to 4.5kg on average, though a weight of 5kg is possible for large females. This is around half of the world’s heaviest eagles, such as the Harpy eagle, which weighs in at 7 to 9kg. Nevertheless, Crowned eagles are powerful, heavy birds with tremendous strength.

Águila coronada en vuelo

Crowned Eagle in flight


What is the scientific name of a Crowned Eagle?

The scientific name for a Crowned eagle is Stephanoaetus coronatus, the only living species of the genus Stephanoaetus from the diverse family of birds of prey Accipitridae.


Are Crowned Eagles aggressive?

Crowned eagles are aggressive predators that are capable of killing prey some six times their body weight. For example, Crowned eagles in South Africa’s Tsitsikamma are regularly observed killing and eating antelope of some 20kg or more. When hungry, they aggressively pursue any living prey that they feel able to kill without undue risk.

Close Up retrato de un águila coronada

Close up portrait of a Crowned Eagle


Do Crowned Eagles eat humans?

Crowned eagles are reportedly responsible for one of the world’s earliest ‘murder mysteries’ when the skull of the Taung Child was discovered in a quarry in South Africa. This 2.5 million-year-old skull was discovered with puncture wounds akin to that of eagle talons, and anthropologists now believe this pre-human child was likely killed by Crowned eagles.

There have been other cases of children being attacked or killed by Crowned eagles, but the odds of being attacked by one are extremely slim, especially compared to some of the other wildlife indigenous to the same parts of Africa as the Crowned eagle.


How long do Crowned Eagles live for?

Crowned eagles live for around 14 years which is typical for large eagles and other large birds of prey. For example, the similarly sized Golden eagle also lives for around 14 years on average. The very oldest may live until their late 20s or their early 30s when kept in captivity.

Águila coronada juvenil en lo alto de un árbol

Juvenile Crowned Eagle perched high up in a tree


What does a Crowned Eagle eat?

Crowned eagles are powerful, expert hunters that prefer to prey on larger mammals, preferably those around the same weight as themselves (3 to 5kg). Those distributed in the rainforest regularly hunt primates, including monkeys, baboons and possibly even chimpanzees. Crowned eagles in more open arid terrain hunt antelope, hyraxes, bushbucks and Pygmy hippos. Other prey includes pigs and boar, large reptiles, other birds, pangolins and squirrels. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Crowned eagle diets are some 80%+ primates, consisting mainly of Blue monkeys and Black and White colobus monkeys.

Crowned eagles are very capable of catching and killing animals 4 to 6 times their body weight – as much as 22.5% of their diet consists of prey weighing over 20kg.


How do Crowned Eagles hunt?

Crowned eagles will hover at a great height of some 5,000 to 8,000ft, identifying prey before either swooping in at speeds in excess of 100mph (160 km/h) or landing on a nearby branch or perch and ambushing their target. When possible, Crowned eagles look to conserve energy when hunting, so they will avoid any unnecessary movement and practice ‘still-hunting’.

They aim to kill upon impact, either puncturing the skull or spine. Mated pairs often hunt together and share prey. Instead of consuming prey in-situ, they will often tear it into manageable pieces and carry it either to their nest or a nearby tree fork.

Águila coronada encaramada en un árbol, en busca de presas

Crowned Eagle perched in a tree, on the look out for prey


Do Crowned Eagles mate for life?

Crowned eagles form strong monogamous pairs. Mating can occur at any time of year, but peaks in July through to November. Pairs of Crowned eagles often hunt together, sharing their prey.


Where do Crowned Eagles nest?

Crowned eagles often target tree-top nesting sites in forested areas close to rivers or freshwater, preferring to nest some 15m to 45m above the ground. The nests are often maintained throughout the entire year and are constructed using large sticks and lined with green branches and soft foliage. These nests can become quite massive – around 2.5m (8ft) in diameter if the nesting site permits it.


How many eggs does a Crowned Eagle lay?

Crowned eagle clutch sizes are very small, consisting of just 1 or 2 eggs. In East Africa, just one egg is more likely. This ensures that the eaglets can be fed sufficient food to survive.

Águila coronada volando en el cielo

Águila coronada volando en el cielo


¿Cómo son los huevos de águila coronada?

Los huevos de águila coronada son relativamente grandes, miden 68,2 mm x 53,6 mm (2,69 x 2,11 pulgadas) y pesan alrededor de 87 a 100 g (3 a 3,5 oz). Por lo general, son completamente blancos, aunque pueden mostrar algunas marcas de color marrón rojizo.


¿Las águilas coronadas comparten las tareas de construcción de nidos?

Las águilas coronadas comparten muchas tareas de construcción de nidos, aunque es más probable que el macho arme el nido mientras la hembra recolecta materiales. Los nidos pueden tardar medio año en construirse desde cero, pero una vez establecidos, se mantienen rigurosamente y pueden alcanzar tamaños enormes.

Cerca de las poderosas garras de un águila coronada

Cerca de las poderosas garras de un águila coronada


¿Con qué frecuencia se reproducen las águilas coronadas?

Las águilas coronadas tienden a reproducirse solo cada dos años en lugar de uno. Su ciclo de reproducción es excepcionalmente largo, principalmente porque las aves jóvenes a veces pueden tardar hasta un año en volverse completamente independientes. Este es uno de los más largos de cualquier ave rapaz.

Cuidar de los polluelos de águila coronada es una tarea intensa: pueden ser alimentados completamente por sus padres durante unos ocho meses y siguen siendo muy dependientes de sus padres incluso cuando están prácticamente desarrollados.


¿Cómo suena un águila coronada?

Se sabe que las águilas coronadas son aves ruidosas y vocales. Sus llamadas típicas consisten en silbidos fuertes y agudos que suben y bajan de tono. También producen una amplia gama de llamadas territoriales, que también consisten en gran parte en silbidos. Se ha observado una comunicación compleja entre los padres y los polluelos, particularmente cuando los padres instan a los polluelos a abandonar el nido por completo.

Primer plano de un águila coronada

Primer plano de un águila coronada


¿Cuál es el hábitat de un águila coronada?

Las águilas coronadas ocupan una vasta franja de tierra que se extiende por todo el África subsahariana, extendiéndose hacia el oeste, el este y el sur de África. Los hábitos preferidos son en su mayoría densamente boscosos con una amplia selección de árboles altos y protegidos.

Some Crowned eagles may reside in more isolated or arid plains, so long as they can find a safe, tall tree to create their large nests. Their nests are intensive to build and require strong, stable tree-forks ideally surrounded by healthy, dense foliage.


Where can I find Crowned eagles?

Crowned eagles are distributed across Sub-Saharan Africa, stretching south to South Africa and west to Guinea, Senegal, The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Cameroon. In East Africa, the Crowned eagle can be found from Ethiopia to Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Also, they are distributed throughout Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe with isolated populations in Angola.

Fewer Crowned eagles may be found centrally in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Águila coronada joven en un árbol

Young Crowned Eagle in a tree


Do Crowned Eagles migrate?

Las águilas coronadas no son migratorias y tienden a ser sedentarias, ocupando territorios fijos razonablemente pequeños. Las águilas coronadas incluso heredan nidos de otras parejas: los nidos se mantienen de generación en generación.


¿Están amenazadas las águilas coronadas?

Las águilas coronadas están clasificadas oficialmente como Casi Amenazadas, lo que significa que sus poblaciones están disminuyendo. La población actual se estima en 50.000 parejas adultas como máximo, pero podría ser tan baja como 15.000. Las águilas coronadas enfrentan presiones a través de la persecución a través de trampas y disparos, así como la deforestación y la destrucción de nidos.