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Cassin's Hawk-eagle
Aquila africana

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Cassin's Hawk Eagle, Hieraaetus africanus, Spizaetus africanus.

Aquila africana
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Distribution: Afrotropical. SIERRA LEONE and LIBERIA east through the Congo Basin to western UGANDA and eastern ZAIRE and northwestern ANGOLA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Previously placed in a monotypic genus, Cassinaetus (Cassin 1865), in Hieraaetus (Kemp 1994), or in Spizaetus (Voous 1964, Amadon and Bull 1989). The study by Lerner and Mindell (2005), based on the molecular sequences of one nuclear and two mitochondrial genes, showed that Aquila chrysaetos, A. africanus, A. fasciatus, A. verreauxii, A. audax, and A. gurneyi form a closely related clade. Their findings seem to shed the most light on the relationships of this species, so it is merged in Aquila, even though it shows some morphological differences from other members of that clade. Helbig et al. (2005) did not include it in their study, but thought that its relationships with Asian hawk eagles were doubtful. 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, although they noted that this relationship was poorly supported in their analysis.

Movements: Non-migratory, but juveniles disperse from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006).

Habitat and Habits: An unobtrusive species, occurring in primary lowland rainforest. In Côte d'Ivoire, it occurs throughout the forest zone and survives in secondary forest and even plantations where a fair number of large trees have been left (Thiollay 1985). Usually seen circling low over the forest canopy or soaring high along forested ridges (Kemp and Kemp 1998, Radley and Campbell 2008). Perches for long periods in emergent trees or at forest edge.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Probably feeds on birds and squirrels.

Breeding: Breeding pairs show a preference for hilltops and mountains (Gatter 1997). Builds a stick nest placed high in a forest tree. more....

Conservation: This species seems to be rare or uncommon throughout its range, although some have suggested that it it is under-recorded because of its secretive habits. The available information on its status are inadequate to eliminate the possibility that it is Near Threatened, although it is currently categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International.

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimated the global population, based on the number of adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season, in the range of 1,001 to 10,000 individuals, but noted that "it seems safer to expect the number of birds (not pairs) to be no higher than four figures." BirdLife International (2009) also estimated the number of mature individuals at 1,000 to 10,000 individuals, but noted that the supporting date for this estimate are poor. more....

Important References: 
Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol. 1.
  Academic Press, London.
Clark, W.S., and C. Edelstam. 2001. First record of Cassin's Hawk-Eagle
  Spizaetus africanus for Kenya. Bulletin of the African Bird Club
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Cassin's Hawk-eagle. P. 203 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.
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.
Negro, J.J. 2008. Two aberrant serpent-eagles may be visual mimics of
  bird-eating raptors. Ibis 150:307-314.
Skorupa, J.P. 1981. A breeding record for Cassin's Hawk-eagle Hieraaetus
. Scopus 5:52-54.
Skorupa, J.P., J. Kalina, T.M. Butynski, G. Tabor, and E. Kellogg. 1985.
  Notes on the breeding biology of Cassin's Hawk-eagle Hieraaetus africanus.
  Ibis 127:120-122.

Last modified: 2/17/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Cassin's Hawk-eagle Aquila africana. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 18 Oct. 2021

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