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Gurney's Eagle
Aquila gurneyi

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Spizaetus gurneyi.

Aquila gurneyi
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Distribution: Australasian. NEW GUINEA (including western Papuan Islands and Aru Islands) and MOLUCCAS (Morotai, Halmahera, Ternate, Bacan, Ambon, Seram); vagrant to northern AUSTRALIA (Torres Strait islands, Cape York Peninsula). more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: The molecular phylogenetic analysis of Lerner and Mindell (2005), using the DNA seqences of one nuclear and two mitochondrial genes, showed that the genus Aquila, as presently constituted in most phylogenetic treatments, is not monophyletic. They found that the Aquila chrysaetos, Spizaetus africanus, Hieraaetus fasciatus, A. verreauxii, A. audax, and A. gurneyi form a clade of closely related species. Earlier, a close relationship among A. chrysaetos, A. audax, A. gurneyi, and A. verreauxii was proposed by Brown and Amadon (1968), based on morphological data. The data of Haring et al. (2007), based on sequences of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b gene, showed that A. africanus clusters with a group that includes A. fasciatus, A. audax, and A. gurneyi.

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant, with juveniles dispersing from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in extensive areas of primary rainforest and swamp forest; forages over cleared, coastal areas, and patrols seashores. Perches in open forest edge and in treetops, occurring singly or in pairs (Coates 2001). In the Moluccas, it inhabits primary lowland and hill forest and also ranges over coastal areas and coconut plantations. Rand and Gilliard (1967) thought that it seems to favor small oceanic islands. unts over treetops and by flying low over nearby open areas; often soars high above the forest during the heat of the day (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986). Usually seen singly, occasionally in pairs or threes (family groups) (Coates and Bishop (1997). Perched birds encountered by Rand and Gilliard (1967) were not wary.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on arboreal mammals and probably large lizards (Coates 1985).

Breeding: No information.

Conservation: Little known and probably scarce throughout its fairly extensive range, but badly in need of a comprehensive population survey. Most likely, this species is declining because of habitat loss and degradation, but this has not been confirmed by actual field studies. Categorized globally as "Near Threatened" by BirdLife International, based on its apparently low numbers.

Population Estimates: BirdLife International (2009) estimated the global population (defined as the number of adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season) in the range in 101 to 1,000, based on reports of its scarcity throughout its range. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of mature birds at 1,000 individuals, but noted that the supporting data are poor.

Important References: 
Beehler, B.M., T.K. Pratt, and D.A. Zimmerman. 1986. Birds of New Guinea.
  Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
BirdLife International. 2000. Threatened birds of the world. Lynx
  Edicions, Barcelona, Spain, and BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
Coates, B.J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, including the Bismarck
  Archipelago and Bougainville. Vol. I. Non-passerines. Dove Publications,
  Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Coates, B.J., and K.D. Bishop. 1997. A guide to the birds of Wallacea,
  Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia. Dove
  Publications, Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. Gurney's Eagle. P. 197 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.
Debus, S. 1998. The birds of prey of Australia: a field guide. Oxford
  University Press, Melbourne.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
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.
Rand, A.L., and E.T. Gilliard. 1967. Handbook of New Guinea birds.
  Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.
RÝv, N., and J.O. Gjershaug. 2000. Population density, territory size and
  habitat use of Gurney's Eagle Aquila gurneyi in the North Moluccas,
  Indonesia. Pp. 677-683 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors
  at risk. World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls, Berlin.
van Balen, B.S. 1994. The status and conservation of birds of prey in the
  Sondaic and Wallacean regions of Indonesia. Pp. 245-254 in B.-U. Meyburg and
  R.D. Chancellor (eds.), Raptor conservation today. World Working Group on
  Birds of Prey, Berlin, and Pica Press, London.
van Balen, B.S. 1998. Tropical forest raptors in Indonesia: recent
  information on distribution, status, and conservation. Journal of Raptor
  Research 32:56-63.
White, C.M.N., and M.D. Bruce. 1986. The birds of Wallacea (Sulawesi, the
  Moluccas, and the Lesser Sunda Islands). BOU Checklist no. 7. British
  Ornithologists' Union, London.

Last modified: 6/3/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Gurney's Eagle Aquila gurneyi. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jul. 2020

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