Bateleur (Terathopius Ecaudatus) is an eagle that lives in the sub-desert areas of the African continent. The most distinctive feature of this bird is that it has a very short tail. (Ecaudatus in Latin means tail-less). Despite the short tail the bird is a very agile flier and often performs flips and other acrobatic figures. The Bateleur can soar for up to nine hours and then nosedive to catch the prey. The bird is usually 60 centimeters (2 feet) long and the wingspan can reach 1.8 meters (6 feet). Bateleurs are not very heavy, they weigh 2 – 3 kilos (4.4 – 6.6 lb).
Notably, the Bateleurs form life-long pairs. A couple makes a nest together and also uses it for quite a long time. The Bateleurs live for 12-15 years. Those Eagles usually choose either a maize tree or acacia to make a nest that usually has a dimple with a diameter of 25 centimeters. The Bateleurs make the nest and lay eggs from December to June. When the egg is laid both the parents take turns to look after it. The chick Bateleur is cream colored at first. For the first couple of days only the mother feeds the chick and the father Bateleur is either looking for food or guarding the nest. If enemies are spotted then the dad Bateleur either attacks the threat or acts dead or injured to attract attention. When the chick gets bigger and requires more food the male eagle also takes part in feeding. At the age of three months the young Bateleur performs the first flights and only at the age of six months leaves the nest.
It was believed that Bateleurs eat mainly carrion, but lately it has been found that these beautiful eagles have a very diverse diet, eating carrion mostly when young and not that good at flying and nose-diving. The Bateleurs spend the most of the day flying, more than any other eagle as they can fly up to 500 kilometers a day. As those birds inhabit vast territories they also have different prey, starting from small rodents as mice to fish, baby antelopes and large lizards. As the Bateleur is that good at maneuvering it occasionally steals other predator birds’ prey.
Africans have always been honoring this bird, Nguni tribe calls the Bateleur ingquigqulu that means ‘the brave bird’. This bird was also believed to be an omen of luck. If at war one of the sides noticed this bird above their enemies, they were sure they would win. The Bateleur is also the national bird of Zimbabwe. Unfortunately the attitude of Europeans was different, they believed that the Bateleurs steal their livestock and placed poisoned bait and shot them. Although the bird is not threatened yet, the transforming of African steppes to farmland is a danger to this species.