A selection of images from the EagleCam2 camera system at the AgriStar Crowned Eagles’ nest.
Last updated 11 October 2020.
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31 August to 11 October 2020
12 July to 28 August 2020
06 June to 08 July 2020
More than 90 EagleCam2 photos were used to produce this 5:39 minute video slideshow. It illustrates the intense activity at the eagles’ nest after the first egg was laid laid on 26 August.
The second egg, laid during the night of 31 August, can also be seen on the first photos of the next morning (1 September).
Fresh leaves were brought to the nest several times during this 8-day period.
More about what the photos illustrate
Crowned Eagle nests require regular maintenance. Before breeding, for months that nest is vacant and sticks fall down due to wind and extreme weather events. Before egg laying the nests are neatened up and new sticks are added to the nest to reinforce the bowl in which the eggs are laid. These sticks can be very long, sometimes over 1,5 m long. These are brought to the nest by both male and female eagles. Fresh leafy foliage is brought to nest throughout the breeding season. Prior to egg laying, a thick bed of leaves covers the bowl of the nest. Leaves from many species of trees are used for the lining. During the early stages of nest repair and courtship, prey is very seldom delivered to the nest. However, in one of the photos the male Crowned Eagle is offering the hind quarters of a small vervet monkey to the female eagle (15 Jun), and later a slender mongoose (12 July). Thick-tailed bush babies were brought to the nest on 28 July, 30 July, 17 September and 25 September. A portion of what appeared to be a young nyala carcass was brought to the nest on 31 August.
Copulation takes place a number of times before egg laying and takes place mostly on the nest but may also take place in a tree close to the nest tree.
Egyptian Geese have frequently been recorded using raptor and other large nests in trees. Egyptian Geese have indeed been seen on the nest a couple of times (6 June and 7 July). It is very unlikely that this opportunistic pair of geese will continue to try to use this nest as the eagles spend more time in the vicinity of the nest. An African Harrier Hawk was also recorded on the nest (16 July).
The eagles laid their first egg on the night of 26 August, and the second egg four days later (night of 31 August). Crowned Eagles usually lay two eggs although a single egg is not that uncommon. Most clutches in South Africa are laid in September but earlier and later clutches are not uncommon. According to the literature the second egg is laid up to 4 days after the first egg. The second egg is a guarantee for raising a chick should one egg be infertile or fail to hatch for any reason. The colour of the eggs may also vary. While some are blotched with faint rusty spots, others like this egg are pure white. With time they may become stained from the nest residue after rains. What was interesting in this instance is that the bowl of the nest was not lined with green leaves at the time of laying. Sprays of green leaves were however brought in by the male shortly after it became light and he saw the egg for the first time. A small unidentifiable prey item was brought to the female by the male on the second morning after the egg was laid and as was usually the case, the male tried to copulate with the female but she was not responsive although she held her head down in a submissive posture. It has been recorded in the literature that both male and female eagles share incubation duties and this can last 49 – 51 days. Garth Batchelor has recorded eggs taking 54 days (on two occasions) to hatch. In this instance we can expect the egg(s) to hatch on about 15 October.