The Bateleur

The Bateleur is a very iconic and popular bird in the Lowveld and Kruger National Park. With Plenty of guest lodges and companies named after this iconic bird, it carries its fame with pride. With its pitch-black feathers and white under wings, it gives a majestic contrast. It has a bright red, almost bloody looking face and legs with a yellow patch on the back of its neck and upper back. The black beak is almost iconic with the Bateleur. Bateleur males are larger and generally darker than the females. One Year old Bateleurs have a uniform dark brown colour to their feathers, which will develop into the iconic colour over time. At about 3 years, the feathers start changing colour and developing. It can take up to 8 years for a Bateleur to completely shed all of its brown feathers. The Bateleur has very long wings that allows it to fly by letting the wind carry it. The Bateleur has short tail feathers which means that its legs stick out when it is in flight.


Bateleurs can spend up to 10 hours a day in the air looking for a meal to sink its talons into. Bateleurs are part of the Birds of Prey. A Bateleur’s diet usually contains carrion, birds, snakes, lizards, road kill, mice and antelope. These massive birds are easily capable of taking down small antelope like klipspringer for a meal. Bateleur eagles will mate for life and will have a nest location that they will stay at for many years before moving to a new nest. Single individuals will often be seen flying close to nests in hopes of getting a mate. Bateleurs will commonly be seen flying in direct, rapid flight which is the preferred method of hunting. Bateleurs can cover up to 300km in a single, 8 hour hunting period.

Because of the Bateleur’s habit to cover large distances, it is easy to over-estimate the amount of these birds in a region. Though it might look like there are plenty if birds in the sub-Saharan region, their numbers are actually in the decline. Some of the behavioural traits that Bateleurs do mid flight include barrel rolls (which are followed by a loud clapping sound that can be heard by humans quite some distance away), 360 loops, steep and speedy dives and they also will stretch out their wings to represent a phoenix pose. These birds are very active birds.