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Lophaetus occipitalis (Long-crested eagle) 

Langkuifarend [Afrikaans]; Isiphungu-phungu, Uphungu-phungu [Xhosa]; isiPhungumangathi [Zulu]; Kondokondo, Pfinye [Shona]; Masworhimasworhi [Tsonga]; Afrikaanse zwarte kuifarend [Dutch]; Aigle huppard [French]; Schopfadler [German]; Įguia-de-penacho [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

Lophaetus occipitalis (Long-crested eagle)  Lophaetus occipitalis (Long-crested eagle) 
Lophaetus occipitalis (Long-crested eagle) 
Long-crested eagle. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

Top right: Long crested eagle. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]                     Bottom right: Long-crested eagle, Darville, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. [photo Alan Manson ©]


For information about this species, see www.birdforum.net/opus/Long-crested_Eagle

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across sub-Saharan Africa; in southern Africa, it is locally common in Zimbabwe, central and southern Mozambique, eastern South Africa, northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip (Namibia). It generally prefers forest edges and moist woodland, especially if it is adjacent to grassland, marsh or a watercourse; it may also occupy dry woodland, mixed farmland, pastures, edges of sugar-cane plantations and orchards.

Distribution of Long-crested 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

Nestlings are prey of monkeys (Cercopithecus), while its eggs are eaten by genets (Genetta).

Movements and migrations

Mainly sedentary, although it may make local movements.


It mainly eats rodents, doing most of its hunting in the  early morning and late afternoon over a fairly small area. It usually hunts from a perch from which it searches for prey; once it spots something it glides to the ground and attempts to catch the animal. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, performing a courtship display in which it dives steeply or flies level while rocking from side to side.
  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a stick platform with a central cup, lined with green leaves. It is typically placed against the trunk of a tree in the mid-canopy, especially an Acacia, fig (Ficus), Eucalyptus, Musasa (Brachystegia spiciformis), willow (Salix) or Pecan nut tree (Carya pecan). It may also use the nest of another bird, such as the Black sparrowhawk or Lizard buzzard.
  • Egg-laying season is year-round, peaking from July-November.
  • It lays 1-2 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 42 days, while the male provides her with food at the nest.
  • The chicks hatch asynchronously, sometimes up to 15 days apart, and are mainly fed by the male at first. They fledge at about 53 days old, remaining dependent on their parents for roughly another 2-3 months.


Not threatened.


  • 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.