Snake threatens chick on Black Eagle’s nest at Walter Sisulu NBG

31 October 2013

Black Eagle's nest at Walter Sisulu NBGAn unidentified snake was reportedly spotted on the Black Eagles’ nest at the Walter Sisulu NBG on the morning of 29 October 2013.

 The nest contains a 32-day-old chick which hatched in mid-Spring, much later than usual. The usual winter breeding cycle was unsuccessful following the failure of two eggs to hatch.

This chick has thus far defied all odds. The nest in now exposed to the summer sun and heat. In winter this exposure has no negative impact on the chicks. In summer it can be dangerous.

Next, early summer rains during October that lasted for three days forced the parent eagles to shield the young one against the heavy rains. This caused them to forego hunting as their wet, heavy feather coats would have made flying and hunting a difficult mission. Thus the chick was faced with the possibility of starvation.

When it was thought the chick was relatively safe from the fierce weather and its implications, the appearance of the snake raised yet another possibility of an unthinkable end. The chick was saved by the arrival of the female eagle just in time, prompting the snake to retreat.

Natural occurance

Eagles are known to catch snakes and bring them to the nest to feed themselves and their eaglets. Snakes are thus not exempt from the menu, but live snakes in the nest have an entirely different meaning and may be outright lethal if they are venomous and want to kill and eat the chick.

Karen Carsterns of the Botanical Society said they were unable to identify the snake, but Africam/TV onlookers who witnessed the incident said the snake was grey in appearance and made a hood. From the description this could possibly have been a rinkhals or a cobra, according to Bo Van de Lecq, operations co-ordinator for the Black Eagle Project Roodekrans (BEPR).

Dr Brett Gardiner, who is the Chief Wildlife Vet at the Johannesburg Zoo advised that no one should interfere (by making attempts to save the chick) as this is a natural occurrence.

The BEPR said they would contact a herpetologist to review the photos from the webcam in order to identify the snake.

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Submitted by Jappie Sibanyoni at 14/11/2013 - 10:26
I'm happy that the chick survived

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