This black eagle chick needs a name, and you could be the one naming it

A competition is being held to find a name for a black eagle chick that hatched at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Roodepoort.

The eaglet, which hatched on June 17 to proud parents Makatsa and Thulane, is growing up fast and has started doing wing exercises.

The black eagles, or Verreaux's eagles (Aquila verreauxii), are an institution at the gardens and visitors are often given the opportunity to inspect their nests with telescopes.

According to Gerald Draper, chairperson of the Black Eagle Project Roodekrans, it is too soon to determine whether the eaglet is male or female.

The yet unnamed black eagle chick doing wing exercises. (Supplied, Garth Heydenrych)

"At this stage we are expecting fledging between September 17 and 24." This is when the chick will leave its nest and fly for the first time.

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"If it fledges sooner, it’s probably male, and if it takes longer, it’s probably female."

Draper explains this is because female black eagles grow to a bigger size than males and are therefore heavier.

(Supplied, Garth Heydenrych)

"Once the bird fledges it stays in the area. [The parents] then teach it to hunt, they still feed it, they teach it how to fly…

"After roughly three months, once the bird has learnt the ropes, the parents start showing some aggression towards it.

"They basically make the little blighter’s life a misery!"

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According to Draper, this means that the chick is now big enough to find its own territory and leave the nest completely.

"This will most probably happen in December after which the parent eagles go into a rest period. Around February, they will start refurbishing the nest and the cycle starts again."

(Supplied, Garth Heydenrych)

Black eagles typically lay two eggs about four days apart. A few days after hatching, the stronger of the two kills the weaker one in what is referred to as a "Cain and Abel struggle".

Thalane (the shy one) arrived at the gardens in 1999 after the disappearance of Quatele (the cross one), says Draper. The female at that time was Emonyeni (of the wind), an “old lady” that Draper says disappeared in 2016. She was believed to be around 50 years old at the time.

"We don't know what happened to her."

(Supplied, Garth Heydenrych)

But almost immediately after Emoyeni’s disappearance, Makatsa (unexpected surprise) arrived.

Last year, Thalane and Makatsa had their first eaglet, Ayanda (addition to the family).

The new eaglet’s name will be announced on September 14 and will be chosen from submissions by the general public.

These submissions can be made via Black Eagle Project Roodekrans’ Facebook page.