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African Fish Eagle - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Steve G
Kai Hai Islands, Central River Division, The Gambia, November 2005
Ichthyophaga vocifer

Haliaeetus vocifer


Photo © by africaddict
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia, September 2007

63–75 cm (24¾-29½ in)

  • White head, breast and tail
  • Dark wings
  • Chestnut belly.

The eye is brown, the bill black, and the cere, lores , legs and feet are yellow.


Africa: widespread and common over most of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal east to Ethiopia and south to the Cape. Scarce or absent from much of Somalia and the arid south-west. Probably largely resident with dispersal in response to rains in more arid areas.

An extremely rare vagrant to the Western Palearctic recorded in Egypt in November 1947 and at Lake Nasser, a juvenile in October 1997. A record of three birds in Sinai in November 1967 is now rejected.


Juveniles with adult
Photo © by rdavis
Awasa Lake, Hawasa, Ethiopia, January 2015

This is a monotypic species[1].


Rivers and lakes and along coasts and in estuaries and mangroves. Usually requires large trees for lookouts and nesting.



Feeds mainly on fish (up to 3 kg), but also eats carrion, birds and eggs (rarely mammals, reptiles and insects). Food is often robbed from other waterbirds.


The call is a loud, ringing WHOW-kayow-kwow.


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Aug 2018)

Recommended Citation

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