The Verreaux’s Eagles (Black Eagles) at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden are the only known pair nesting in an urban area. They are a major draw card with visitors. These majestic raptures have been resident in the area for many years, before the establishment of the Garden. They are highly territorial.
Black Eagles are carnivorous, preying largely on dassies, guinea fowl and red rock rabbits. They weigh approximately 5 kg and have a wingspan of up to 2.3 m. These eagles pair for life and can be seen all year round.
The breeding season begins around January with the refurbishment of the nests. A clutch of usually two eggs is laid around May. Incubation lasts about 45 days with both eagles taking turns. When the eggs hatch, usually a few days apart, the older and stronger chick kills and eats its sibling. This is known as a Cain and Abel struggle (Cainism).
After three months in the nest the chick usually takes its maiden flight although is still dependent on its parents for food. The juvenile normally leaves the area around December or January, once it has learnt the necessary hunting skills to establish its own territory.