|Range||Africa south of the Sahara.|
The Wahlberg's eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi, formerly Aquila wahlbergi) is a species of bird of prey in the Accipitridae family. It is about 53–61 cm (21–24 in) in length with a wingspan of 130–146 cm (51–58 in) and a body mass of 437–845 g (15.25–29.5 oz) for males and 670–1400 g (1.47–3.08 lb) for females on average.
Wahlberg's eagle breeds in most of Africa south of the Sahara. It is a bird of woodland, often near water. It builds a stick nest in the fork of a tree or the crown of a palm tree. The clutch is one or two eggs.
Wahlberg's eagle is a medium-sized raptor. The plumage is dark brown except for dark-streaked grey undersides to the flight feathers, and a barred grey undertail. The head has a small crest, and the legs are yellow.
A pale variant is much lighter brown with whitish, rather than grey undertail and flight feather undersides. Sexes are similar.
In flight, this species is very cross-shaped, with long, evenly wide wings, a slim body, and long, narrow, square-ended tail. The wings are held very flat.
This bird is named after the Swedish naturalist Johan August Wahlberg.
Studies of marker gene sequences (published 2004–2005) found Wahlberg's eagle belonged to a clade containing Hieraaetus pennatus, Hieraaetus morphnoides, Hieraaetus ayeresii, and Hieraaetus weiskei. Since then, many taxonomic checklists changed from Aquila wahlbergi to Hieraaetus wahlbergi. However, the African Bird Club (as of the 2012 checklist) and the Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project (as of 2014) continue to keep Aquila wahlbergi separate from the Hieraaetus species.
These large brown eagles are generally a tricky group to identify, but distinctive features of Wahlberg's eagle include: round nostrils which separates it from tawny and steppe eagles, although the two spotted eagles also have round nostrils; some form of a crest is usually visible; the gape only extends at maximum to the middle of the eye, whereas in lesser spotted eagle, it extends to the back of the eye.
Both light and dark phases of this species occur.