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What Is the Black Eagle?

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  • Written By: A. Delgado
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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A black eagle can refer to either the Verreaux's eagle of Africa or the Indian black eagle, which is found throughout Southeast Asia. Both species are large birds of prey that dwell primarily in forests and mountains. They have broad wings and mainly dark-colored feathers with patterns that differ for each species. Their hunting skills and strong talons allow them to grab a variety of prey, but they have a preference for certain food sources over others. Males and females display elaborate courtship behaviors during the mating season, and the females produce one or two eggs.

Verreaux's eagle, or Aquila verreauxii, inhabits the mountains, savannas, deserts and shrublands in parts of eastern and southern Africa. Their range in the east includes the countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. In the south, their range extends through South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Indian black eagles live in the hills, mountains and forests in the southern half of India. They're also found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand and Taiwan. This species lives in altitudes of up to 9,000 feet (2, 743 m) above sea level.

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The black eagles of Africa are mostly covered in black feathers, although they have white feathers on the back that form a Y or V shape. Adult Verreaux's eagles range from 31 to 36 inches (78 to 90 cm) in length, weigh between 6.6 and 13 pounds (3 to 5.8 kg) and have a wingspan of 71 to 86 inches (181 to 219 cm). They differ from several other eagle species in that the females are around the same size as the males instead of being bigger.

Indian black eagles have dark brown or black feathers with patterns of gray stripes on the wings and tail. They also have brown eyes and yellow legs. Adults typically measure between 25 to 31 inches (65 to 80 cm) long and weigh between 2 and 3.5 pounds (1 to 1.6 kg), with a wingspan of 58 to 72 inches (148 to 182 cm) wide.

Both black eagle species use a combination of stealth and speed to catch their prey. Verreaux's eagles prefer to hunt mammals called hyraxes, which are numerous in the mountain regions of Africa. Their diet also includes medium-sized mammals, other large-sized birds and reptiles such as tortoises. Indian black eagles feed mostly on the eggs and young of other bird species, although they also eat reptiles and mammals.

Verreaux's eagles and Indian black eagles engage in daring mating rituals, such as diving straight down toward the ground and suddenly swerving back up into the air. The breeding season for Verreaux's eagles occurs from April through August, while Indian black eagles typically mate from November through May. Female Verreaux's eagles lay one or two eggs, although the older chick generally kills the younger one. Indian black eagle females lay one egg at a time.

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