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Meyer’s Farm Verreaux’s Eagles

The resident eagles that have been in the area for a couple of years have once again had a successful breeding season.

It was observed that on the morning of the 15th April 2021,  the female was sitting tight on the nest, which equates that she laid the first egg on the late afternoon of the 14th April 2021 or the early morning of the 15th April 2021. The second egg was thus expected on the 18th of April 2021. The eggs are incubated for 44 days. During this time the male and female both contribute to the incubation with the female doing about 65% of the incubation. The male is then responsible to provide food for the female. While the male incubates the eggs, the female will either be eating the food brought back by the male or stretching her wings.

The first egg hatched on the 29th of May 2021 and the second on the 1st of June 2021. The first sign of food being brought onto the nest is a signal that the first egg has hatched. Cainism (sibling aggression) that lasts up to 3 days then takes place to ensure the strongest chic of the two survives. On the 4th of June 2021, it was confirmed that there was only one sole survivor.

Feeding of the chic is mainly done by the female but the male will assist where necessary. During the first few weeks, the male is still responsible to provide food for the female and the chic. A dassie will be supplied daily to the nest for the female and the chic. As the chic grows, more food will be provided. Old dassie carcasses are removed from the nest daily by either one of the parents and green leafy sprays are brought in daily to help with the insect (mainly flies) control on the nest.

Males being the smaller of the two, may fledge in the region of 90-95 days whilst females may fledge by about 95-100 days or a little more. The wonderful thing about the feather colours of the eaglet is that the first few months they are as white as snow. Then they change to a brown and black mixture. By the time they fledge, they blend in so well with their surroundings, it is difficult to spot them if they do not move around.

The male will start showing aggression towards the juvenile by chasing the juvenile within 2 months of fledging. This will increase his skills of how to survive attacks by other eagles when he leaves the home territory. At around 3 months since fledging, the juvenile will be chased out of the home territory by both parents. By this time, he would have learned how to catch his prey, to seek shelter in storms and how to stay safe from predators. Juveniles roam free for the first 3 years. If they survive this period, they will find their home territory to settle down. By the age of 3, all the brown feathers will have been replaced by black feathers.