We received bad news from Shane McPherson of Crowned Eagle Research this weekend regarding the Crowned Eagle chick born in the Winterskloof nest in October 2011.
She was electrocuted on an Eskom transformer at her release site in the Albert Falls area and died.
She was one of the chicks ringed by Shane following her hatching and was named Guinevere by Eileen Rasmussen who monitors the nest for the research work undertaken by Shane. Eileen took this beautiful photograph of Guinevere in Winterskloof.
Once she left the area, she was found at the children’s animal farm at Ballito on the KZN North Coast. She was eating the tame animals, so was captured for her safety and taken to the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary at Ashburton. She was released on 28 March at Albert Falls in the vicinity of a 3 year old male Crowned Eagle – Theo and Margie Cave were Guin’s release hosts. It was hoped they would pair up to help increase the numbers of this rapidly declining species.
Release report: The door to her release enclosure was opened in the evening. She fed and flew up into the gum tree above her release enclosure where the local male Crowned Eagle joined her. She flew off and spent the night in another gum tree not far from her release enclosure. On Saturday morning both birds were seen in the gum tree above the release enclosure, but they flew off together and spent time exploring the neighbourhood and disappeared out of sight. On Sunday morning Guin was seen back in the gum tree above her hack enclosure, but there was no sign of the male.
Christine Theron took these gorgeous photos of Guin.
Towards the end of April, Guin and her new male companion had been seen and heard together a lot. Guin was still returning to the hack enclosure for food, but the gaps between meals was growing – a really good sign.
After finding her dead this weekend Theo and Margie Cave are understandably very distressed. “Her mate spent the whole day circling and calling for her. It was heartbreak for us.”
This is the second chick from the Winterskloof nest to die. In 2010 her sibling was shot and killed by local children with a pellet gun.
It is extremely distressing to know that these magnificent creatures may soon be extinct as they seem unable to thrive in this transformed world. They are essential in managing the numbers of monkeys, hadedas and dassies. The Winterskloof’s monkey population has ballooned recently due to a ready supply of food and a lack of predators.
Let’s hope the parents we hear calling at the moment get to hatch another egg in June and this one is able to live a long and healthy life.
Shane Mc Pherson adds: “I’ve worked with many raptors before, but these Crowned Eagles have something truly special. It takes a huge investment from the parents to produce just one chick every year or two. Each loss weighs heavy on their future, particularly because we assume that we only discover a small portion of the moralities, and so many more must just vanish without a trace. The more I see them and learn about them makes every loss all the greater, but I have been able to learn so much (intimate observations from 900,000 photos at 11 nest sites) over the last two years of research.”
Thanks to Judy Bell and Crowned Eagle Research for copy for this story. https://www.facebook.com/CrownedEagleResearch