Spizaetus is the typical hawk-eagle birds of prey genus found in the tropics of the Americas. It was however used to indicate a group of medium-large tropical eagles that included species occurring in southern and southeastern Asia and one representative of this genus in the rainforests of West Africa.
The Old World species have been separated into the genus Nisaetus. Several species have a prominent head crest.
The American Ornithologists’ Union merges Spizastur into Spizaetus since 2007.
Spizaetus eagles are forest birds with several species having a preference for highland woodlands. They build stick nests in trees
Males and females look alikely plumaged with typical raptor brown upperparts and pale underparts, but young birds are distinguishable from adults, often by a whiter head.
Diet / Feeding
These eagles eat medium sized vertebrate prey such as mammals, birds and reptiles.
The species that were historically placed in this genus are:
New World species retained in Spizaetus
- Black Hawk-eagle or Tyrant Hawk-eagle, Spizaetus tyrannus
- Black-and-White Hawk-eagle, Spizaetus melanoleucus – traditionally Spizastur
- Ornate Hawk-eagle, Spizaetus ornatus
- Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Spizaetus isidori – traditionally Oroaetus
Old World species now moved to Nisaetus
- Changeable Hawk-eagle, Nisaetus cirrhatus (earlier Spizaetus cirrhatus)
- Mountain Hawk-eagle, Nisaetus nipalensis (earlier Spizaetus nipalensis)
- The Western Ghats and Sri Lankan race has been suggested as a full species Nisaetus kelaarti.
- Blyth’s Hawk-eagle, Nisaetus alboniger (earlier Spizaetus alboniger)
- Javan Hawk-eagle, Nisaetus bartelsi (earlier Spizaetus bartelsi)
- Sulawesi Hawk-eagle, Nisaetus lanceolatus (earlier Spizaetus lanceolatus)
- (Northern) Philippine Hawk-eagle, Nisaetus philippensis (earlier Spizaetus philippensis)
- Southern Philippine Hawk-eagle, Nisaetus pinskeri (earlier Spizaetus (philippensis) pinskeri)
- Wallace’s Hawk-eagle, Nisaetus nanus (earlier Spizaetus nanus)
Moved to Aquila
- Cassin’s Hawk-eagle, Aquila africana (earlier Spizaetus africanus)
- Helbig AJ, Kocum A, Seibold I and Braun MJ (2005) A multi-gene phylogeny of aquiline eagles (Aves: Accipitriformes) reveals extensive paraphyly at the genus level. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 35(1):147-164 PDF
- Banks et al. (2007)
- Gjershaug, J. O.; Diserud, O. H.; Rasmussen, P. C. and Warakagoda, D. (2008) “An overlooked threatened species of eagle: Legge’s Hawk Eagle Nisaetus kelaarti (Aves: Accipitriformes)” (PDF) Zootaxa 1792: 54–66