Injured eagle progressing well
The injured martial eagle, brought to the Hartenbos Animal Hospital about two weeks ago, is progressing satisfactorily.
The Mossel Bay Advertiser published an article about the eagle on Friday, 26 October.
Martial eagles, found over a substantial section of Africa and South Africa, are endangered. It is believed only 10 in the wild have been tagged.
The juvenile eagle at the animal hospital, aged about a year, flew into electricity lines and has a burnt wing. It was found by a farmer in the Kanon area, west of Mossel Bay.
Dr De Graaff of the animal hospital estimates the eagle will be in his care for another month before it will be transferred to a raptor centre.
The injured wing is bandaged. Dr De Graaff is the vet in Mossel Bay who handles and treats most of the injured birds found in the area. Martial eagles can live to about 50 years. They reach maturity at about six years. The juvenile bird is pale compared with adult birds. The birds become browner and darker as they age.
Martial eagles have relatively short bodies. Their tails are short, but their wingspan can reach up to 265cm. Most of the birds have wingspans of about 205cm.
Martial eagles have large eyes and eyesight three times better than humans. They have a membrane which moves across the eye horizontally to lubricate the eye. "It's a third eyelid," Dr De Graaff says. The membrane is a pale blue colour.
The Mossel Bay Advertiser contacted Radical Raptors, a centre for bird rehabilitation near Plettenberg Bay and asked falconer Dennis Robson for comment.
Robson was asked particularly why the eagle did not rake at Dr De Graaff with its claws or peck him.
Martial eagles sometimes fly at adult mammals, maiming them, so they can kill their offspring.
Their prey includes wild cats, jackals, reptiles, small antelope and rodents such as hares and the rock hyrax (dassie). Robson said: "It can depend on the skill of the handler, whether the bird attacks or not. Also, it depends on the state of the bird. I have picked up a bird without gloves, with no problems.
You have to be careful. I've handled a crowned eagle before, but it was in a desperate state: starving, weak and almost dead. I fed it and treated it. It lost its fear of me, so did not attack me.
"It's so hard helping birds of prey. You should see the scars on my arms. Ideally a bird should be rehabilitated as soon as possible.
Some birds need proper falconry training during rehabilitation."
Robson said it was usually not a problem that injured birds had been handled by humans; they adapted and became wild again quickly, so their safety was not compromised. Additional source: https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_eagle
Photo: Linda Sparg
The bird has powerful legs and large feet.