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Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Terathopius ecaudatus, Bateleur

Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) Fact Sheet

Bateleur bird on a rock

Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Acciptriformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Terathopius

Species: Terathopius ecaudatus — Bateleur

Body Weight
1.8-3.0 kg (4.0-6.6 lb)

Head-body Length
550-700 mm (21.7-27.6 in)

Tail Length
100-120 mm (3.9-4.7 in)

Adult plumage
White, chestnut, gray, and black; two color phases

Juvenile plumage
Light, straw brown, or gray-brown on the back

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Sub-Saharan Africa

Open woodland, tree savanna, grasslands, thornbush

IUCN Status
Near Threatened

CITES Appendix
Appendix II

Other Designations
Considered Vulnerable in some African countries

Population in Wild
Not well understood, but 180,000 possible, globally (includes adults and immatures).

Powerful flight; wings held in a deep "V" while soaring, outstretched while gliding. Walk.

Activity Cycle
Diurnal; spend about 80% of their time in flight.

Social Groups
Often solitary, except when breeding and at feeding sites

Diverse diet: hunt mammals (ranging in size from small rodents to small-to-medium sized antelopes), other birds, reptiles, and less frequently, fish and termites. Scavenge on carrion.

Potentially baboons, genets, African wildcats, Tree monitor, other eagles, Giant Eagle Owl, and Ground Hornbills

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity
7-8 years; obtain adult plumage from 7 years old

Incubation Period
About 55 days

Clutch Size
One egg

Birth Weight
Not well known; one egg description states about 110 g

Age at Fledging
Highly variable. First flight at 93-194 days; post-fledging dependence up to 4 months.

Typical Life Expectancy
Wild populations: no rigorous estimates
Managed care: commonly 30–40 years, according to ZIMS data

Feature Facts

  • Name refers to bird's somersaulting maneuvers during flight
  • Some African cultures associate Bateleurs with seasonal weather changes and divine messengers
  • Acrobatic flight—spin, tumble, roll sideways, rapidly beat wings; displayed during courtship flights
  • Greet one another by lifting wings, "bowing," and vocalizing a loud "haow"
  • Varied prey; includes catfish, mongoose, porcupine, hedgehog, and poisonous snakes
  • Parental care lasts 8-9 months
  • Several other large African birds use abandoned Bateuleur nests
  • Accidental poisoning contributes to population declines
  • The San Diego Zoo's first Bateleur arrived in 1924

About This Fact Sheet

© 2015-2018 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. CITES Status updated Aug 2018.


How to cite: Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) Fact Sheet. c2015-2018. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. bateleur
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)


Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to


We wish to thank Dr. Rick Watson and Beau Parks for providing expert content review of this fact sheet.

Dr. Watson studied Bateleur Eagles in South Africa in the 1980s and is among the first to systematically describe the reproduction, ecology, and population dynamics of the species. He has spearheaded research and conservation efforts for a variety of African and Malagasy raptors and currently serves as Vice-President and Director of International Programs for The Peregrine Fund.

Mr. Parks has extensive experience working with raptors and has spent 10 years working with birds under managed care in zoological facilities. He is currently a Senior Keeper with the San Diego Zoo Avian Prorogation Center.

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