Wild Birds


Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)

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”, the national emblem of Zimbabwe.

A Bateleur Eagle In The Forest
A Bateleur Eagle In The Forest

Distribution / Range

This is a common resident species of the open savanna country in Sub-Saharan Africa.



The Bateleur Eagle is a colorful species with a very short tail (ecaudatus is Latin for tailless) which makes it unmistakable in flight. The adult male is 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) long with a 175 cm (5.75 ft) wingspan. He 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 has grey rather than black secondary flight feathers (shorter, upper “arm” feathers). Immature birds are brown with white dappling and have greenish facial skin. It takes them seven or eight years to reach full maturity.

Bateleur” is French for “tight-rope walker”. This name describes the bird’s characteristic habit of tipping the ends of its wings when flying as if catching its balance.

In some countries, 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.


Nesting / Breeding

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 several years. Unpaired birds, presumably from a previous clutch, will sometimes help at the nest.


Bateleur Eagle on a Grass
Bateleur Eagle on a Grass


Feeding / Diet

The eagle hunts over a territory of 250 square miles (650 km2) a day. The prey of this raptor is mostly birds, including pigeons and sandgrouse, and also small mammals; it also takes carrion.


Calls / Vocalizations

The Bateleur is generally silent, but on occasion, it produces a variety of barks and screams.



  • BirdLife International (2006). Terathopius ecaudatus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.
  • Barlow, Wacher and Disley Birds of The Gambia ISBN 1-873403-32-1


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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