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Aquila verreauxii (Verreauxs' eagle, Black eagle) 

Witkruisarend [Afrikaans]; Ukhozi (generic term for eagle), Untsho [Xhosa]; uKhozi (generic term for eagle) [Zulu]; Ngongo zonsavagani [Kwangali]; Mojalipela, Moja-lipela, Seoli, Ntsu [South Sotho]; Rovambira [Shona]; Ghama (generic term for eagle) [Tsonga]; Ntsu, Ntswi (generic terms for eagles) [Tswana]; Zwarte arend [Dutch]; Aigle de Verreaux [French]; Felsenadler, Kaffernadler [German]; Įguia-preta [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Falconiformes > Family: Accipitridae > Genus: Aquila

Aquila verreauxii (Verreauxs' eagle, Black eagle) 

Verraux's eagle subadult, Karoo National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Aquila verreauxii (Verreauxs' eagle, Black eagle)  Aquila verreauxii (Verreauxs' eagle, Black eagle) 
Verraux's eagle adult, Langebaan, South Africa
. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]
Verraux's eagle, Langebaan, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

It's distribution is strongly linked to that of the rock hyraxes, occurring from Eritrea through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia to South Africa. In southern Africa, it is locally fairly common in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, marginally extending into eastern Botswana and western Mozambique. It generally prefers mountains and other rocky habitats with cliffs.

Distribution of Verreaux's eagle in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

The chicks are prey of the following animals

Movements and migrations

Adults are resident, but juveniles and immature birds are nomadic.


It mainly eats mammals, especially rock hyraxes, doing most of its hunting from a perch, from which it descends to pluck prey from the ground. It often hunts in pairs, so that one bird can flush prey by skimming the rockface, while the other follows to strike; they share the meat afterwards. It tends to hunt rock hyraxes in the early morning and evening, when they take up exposed positions to warm up; it sometimes surprises the hyraxes to such an extent that they fall down the rockface to their deaths. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, alternating between up to five different nest sites from one breeding season to the next, although it often favours one of them and uses it for many years.
  • The nest (see image below) is built by both sexes in six weeks to four months, consisting of a large platform of sticks with a cup lined with green leaves. It is typically placed on a steep and inaccessible cliff, although it may also use a tree, such as Mountain-acacia (Brachystegia glaucescens), Euporbia, Baobab (Adansonia digitata) or Stone pine (Pinus pinea). It rarely uses a man-made structure, or it can even take over the nest of another bird, such as the African fish-eagle, instead of building its own.
Aquila verreauxii (Verreauxs' eagle, Black eagle)

Verreaux's eagle nest, Mokopane, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from April-July, peaking in June.
  • It lays 1-2 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 44-48 days, while the male feeds her at the nest.
  • The chicks are fed by the female with food provided by the male, and can already feed themselves at four weeks. If there are two chicks, the older one relentlessly attacks its younger sibling until it dies, regardless of the fact that they are both cared for and fed equally. The surviving chick leaves the nest at about 90-98 days old, and is chased out of the territory by its parents about four months later.


Not threatened globally, with a remarkably stable population in southern Africa, although it is Near-threatened in Namibia due to its small population there.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.