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lilikoi's avatar

Need help identifying African bird of prey...

Asked by lilikoi (10028 points ) February 6th, 2010

I saw a huge bird in the Maasai Mara game reserve in Kenya. It was in a forested area. I seem to remember it was all black. It easily had a wingspan of over 6 feet. It appeared from the forest at dusk, and flapped its massive wings (I heard the loud whooshing of the flap from maybe 50 yards away) before soaring a little and returning to wherever it came from in the trees. It was so large I’m sure it must be a bird of prey. There were many baboons in the area, not sure about fish. What might it have been?

Update: Could it be an African Black Eagle? I did also see one Hyrax in the area…I can’t find any info on this bird’s wingspan though. That and it’s black color are really all I am certain of.

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6 Answers

Darwin's avatar

The largest bird of prey in Africa is the Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus), at almost 14 pounds (6.5 Kg.) and with a wingspan of about 6 feet 4 inches. It is apparently quite common in Kenya. You can see it here.

lilikoi's avatar

@Darwin Thanks. I have been trying to get on that darned site all night to no avail…. I’m not sure it is that one, though, as I don’t remember seeing any white on it at all. And, it was in a pretty dense forest by Mara standards, it wasn’t in one of those lone acacia trees or anything.

lilikoi's avatar

Oooh. It was also definitely not a vulture or an owl. More likely some kind of eagle, hawk, or similar.

Darwin's avatar

Here is another site with photos as well as videos.

Then this site says there are 53 different birds of prey at Maasai Mara, including the Here are some photos of the vultures found at Maasi Mara. Both of these birds have a 6-foot wing span.

You might consider contacting the man who writes this blog. Raptors in Kenya seem to be one of his specialties.

Or you could contact his professor, Marc Bechard, at Boise State. His email is mbechard@boisestate.edu and his phone is 208–426-3530. He appears to be one of the world experts on Kenyan raptors.

lilikoi's avatar

@Darwin Thanks for all the info!!

Darwin's avatar

Somehow a chunk got left out of my answer, so here it is in complete form:

Here is another site with photos as well as videos.

Then this site says there are 53 different birds of prey at Maasai Mara, including the Here are some photos of the vultures found at Maasi Mara. Both of these birds have a 6-foot wing span.

You might consider contacting the man who writes this blog. Raptors in Kenya seem to be one of his specialties.

Or you could contact his professor, Marc Bechard, at Boise State. His email is mbechard@boisestate.edu and his phone is 208–426-3530. He appears to be one of the world experts on Kenyan raptors.

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