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Black-faced Hawk
Leucopternis melanops

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: 

Leucopternis melanops
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Distribution: Neotropical.  Southeastern COLOMBIA and southern VENEZUELA to the GUIANAS south through BRAZIL (Amazonia mostly north of the Amazon River) to northeastern ECUADOR and northeastern PERU (Iquitos and Pucallpa). more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Using sequences from four mitochondrial genes,Amaral et al. (2006) found that the genus Leucopternis, as traditionally arranged, is not monophyletic and that it is a composite of three independent lineages. For the most part, the study of Lerner et al. (2008), using both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, confirmed this finding. The predominantly black and white plumage shared by several species has evolved at least twice. del Hoyo et al. (1994) suggested that this species is closely related to L. lacernulatus, but the molecular results show that they are in different clades (Amaral et al. op cit.. Lerner et al. op cit.). Most authorities suggest that the trans-Andean (west of the Andes) L. semiplumbeus forms a sister clade with the cis-Andean (east of the Andes) L. melanops/L. kuhli complex. In their analysis, Amaral (op cit.) showed that this clade is also sister to Buteo buteo, B. albicaudatus, B. (Rupornis) magnirostris, and Parabuteo unicinctus. Pinto (1979) regarded this species as conspecific with L. kuhli, and Stresemann and Amadon 1979) regarded L. kuhli and L. melanops as sister species. This close relationship was confirmed by the recent molecular studies, but it is not yet possible to assume a lack of gene flow between L. melanops and L. kuhli, since hybrid individuals may occur (Amaral et al. op cit, Lerner et al. op cit.).

Movements: Probably non-migratory.

Habitat and Habits: Found in lowlands in mangroves, várzea forest, and along edges of rivers and streams, perching at various levels, sometimes high and in the open, but mostly low. Rarely soars. Secretive and overlooked (Márquez Reyes et al. 2000, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). Thiollay (2007) found it in the the understory of primary forest at 16 localities in French Guiana, but never saw it soar over the canopy or perch in the open. He detected it only by vocalizations and suspected that its actual occurrence may be underestimated. Raposo do Amaral et al. (2007) predicted that this species will be found widely distributed in southern Amazonia in terra firme forests on sands and deeply weathered clays.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on reptiles, but also on nestling birds and insects. Still hunts, moving from perch to perch, pausing a few minutes at each (Hilty 2003). more....

Breeding: No information.

Conservation: Like most other members of this genus, this species is poorly studied. Categorized as "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007).

Important References: 
Amadon, D. 1964. Taxonomic notes on birds of prey. American Museum
  Novitates no. 2166.
Amaral, F.S.R., M.J. Miller, L.F. Silveira, E. Bermingham, and A. Wajntal.
  2006. Polyphyly of the hawk genera Leucopternis and Buteogallus (Aves,
  Accipitridae): multiple habitat shifts during the Neotropical buteonine
  diversification. BMC Evolutionary Biology 6:1-10.
Amaral, F.S.R., L.F. Silveira, and B.M. Whitney. 2007. New localities for
  the Black-faced Hawk (Leucopternis melanops) south of the Amazon River and
  description of the immature plumage of the White-browed Hawk (Leucopternis
Barlow, J., T. Haugaasen, and C.A. Peres. 2002. Sympatry of Black-faced
  Leucopternis melanops and White-browed Hawks L. kuhli along the Lower Rio
  Tapajs, Pará, Brazil. Cotinga 18:77-79.
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Black-faced Hawk. P. 169 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Bierregaard, R.O. 1995. The biology and conservation status of Central and
  South American Falconiformes: a survey of current knowledge. Bird
  Conservation International 5:325-340.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Lerner, H.R.L., M.C. Klaver, and D.P. Mindell. 2008. Molecular
  phylogenetics of the buteonine birds of prey (Accipitridae). Auk
Lerner, H.R., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Phylogeny of eagles, Old World
  vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:327-346.
Pinto, O.M. de O. 1979, Novo catálogo das aves do Brasil, Parte 1. São
  Paulo, Brazil.
Raposo do Amaral, F.S., M.J. Miller, L.F. Silveira, E., Bermingham, and A.
2006. Polyphyly of the hawk genera Leucopternis and Buteogallus
  (Aves, Accipitridae): multiple habitat shifts during the Neotropical
  buteonine diversification. BMC Evolutionary Biology 6:1-10.
Sick, H. 1997. Ornitologia brasileira. Nova Fronteira Editora, Rio de
  Janeiro, Brazil.

Sites of Interest:
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account with emphasis on Brazil.

Raposo do Amaral, Fábio
Shrum, Peggy
Silveira, Luis Fabio

Last modified: 9/12/2009

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Black-faced Hawk Leucopternis melanops. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jul. 2020

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