Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)

Martial Eagles are very large, 33" (84cm) birds with a small crest and short tail. They are Africa's largest Eagle The upperparts, head and breast are grey-brown. The underparts are white with brown spots. The eyes are bright yellow. The heavy bill is hooked and black. The cere and large feet are blueish-grey. They have strong, curved black talons. In flight, the underwings are dark, with some bars on the flight feathers and the upperwing completely dark. Males are smaller than females by a good margin. The similar, but smaller Black-chested Snake Eagle has no spots on its underparts.
The immature bird has a white face, no spots on the underparts and very young birds have brown eyes. Its underwings are pale with dark barring on both tail and flight feathers.

Martial Eagles are solitary birds, often seen perched on top of trees or soaring high, looking down.
A large stick nest, up to 6' (2 metres) in diameter, is built on top of a tree and lined with leaves. Several nests may be made in a territory by the same pair and reused. One or two eggs are laid and incubation lasts for up to 50 days, completed by the female. The chicks fledge at approximately 95 days, but are dependent of the parents for up to 2 years of age. Immature birds maintain the plumage above for four years, before transforming to the adult plumage and becoming sexually mature. Life expectancy is approximately 15 years.

Martial Eagles eat both birds and mammals. A ferocious predator that kills Baboon, Antelope and large birds, including Storks, Egyptian Geese, Guineafowl and on occasion, adult Kori Bustards. It will also take Monitor Lizards. in a long, shallow dive.

Martial Eagles are seen all over Kenya, but not as common as they once were. It prefers open bushland and plains below 3,000 metres.

Extra Martial Eagle Facts
Martial Eagles have a distinct, music-like "coweeeoo~coweeeoo~coweeeoo" call.
Martial Eagles, although solitary, mate for life. They lack a mating dance, but call loudly "clueweeoo".
Martial Eagles have 3 times better eyesight than humans, enabling them to spot prey at great distance.

Photographed in Kenya's Meru NP, Olare Orok Conservancy and Tsavo East NP.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:bird, eagle, kenya, martial eagle, predator, wildlife

Martial Eagle ~ Flying

Adult Martial Eagle, flying from a tree top, its legs not yet streamlined beneath its tail.

Martial Eagle ~ Perched

A young Martial Eagle, perched on top of a tree in Kenya.

Martial Eagle ~ Eating

Young Martial Eagle eating on top of a tree in Kenya

Martial Eagle ~ Adult

Adult Martial Eagle, perched on top of a tree in Kenya.

Martial Eagle ~ Immature

Immature Martial Eagle, still with brown eyes and completely white underparts.