Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Crested Hawk-eagle
Nisaetus cirrhatus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Ceylon Hawk Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle (limnaetus), Changeable Hawk-eagle (limnaetus), Crested Hawk Eagle, Indian Crested Hawk-eagle, Marsh Hawk-eagle, Spizaetus cirrhatus.

Nisaetus cirrhatus
click to enlarge
Distribution: Indomalayan. INDIA, SRI LANKA, and ANDAMAN ISLANDS east to Southeast Asia, south to the PHILIPPINES, SUMATRA, JAVA, GREATER SUNDAS, and BORNEO. more....

Subspecies: 5 races. S. c. andamanensis: ANDAMAN IS.; S. c. ceylanensis: SRI LANKA; S. c. cirrhatus: INDIA south of Rajasthan and Gangetic Plain; S. c. limnaeetus: northern INDIA and NEPAL through MYANMAR, western and southern Indochina and Malay Peninsula to GREATER SUNDAS and western and southeastern PHILIPPINES (Palawan, Mindoro, Mindanao); S. c. vanheurni: Western SUMATRA (Simeulue Island).

Taxonomy: Traditionally placed in the genus Spizaetus, but recent molecular studies by Helbig et al. (2005) showed that the Asian hawk-eagle species represent a different lineage from the New World hawk-eagle species and should therefore be assigned to a new genus for which the name Nisaetus Hodgson 1836 is available. The same conclusion was reached independently by Lerner and Mindell (2005), who also found that N. cirrhatus and N. lanceolatus are sister species. Gamauf et al. (2005) found a closer relationship between the western forms, S.c. cirrhatus and S.c. ceylanensis, than among other subspecies, perhaps reflecting the proximity of their ranges. Amadon (1953, 1982), Stresemann and Amadon (1979), and Rasmussen and Anderton (2005)treated limnaeetus as a separate species, based on morphological and vocal differences, and the latter authors also regarded andamanensis as a distinct species. However, a recent molecular study based on two sections of the mitochondrial genome by Gamauf et al. (2005) indicated that limnaeetus itself does not represent a monophyletic group, and they thought that there is no sound basis for splitting N. cirrhatus. more....

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

Habitat and Habits: Found in dry deciduous to semi-evergreen forest, including late second-growth logged over forest with clearings, and cultivated areas. Perches on exposed branches in the canopy of trees in clearings and forest edge, and often soars above forest (Kennedy et al. 2000). Established pairs remain on nest territories year round; they may roost and soar together, but hunt alone (Wells 1999). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on mid-sized birds (up to the size of domestic chickens), mammals (up to the size of squirrels), snakes, and lizards. Spends most of its time hunting from an exposed perch at the edge of open areas, mostly high up, but sometimes as low as a fencepost, or from a concealed perch within a tree crown (Wells 1999). more....

Breeding: Builds a stick nest, lined with leafy twigs, placed high in a main branch fork, usually close to the center of the crown of a large tree in forest or even isolated (Wells 1999). Most nests are well hidden in foliage, but some are completely exposed on a dead emergent (Wells op cit.). Alternative nests may be used in successive years. Clutch size is one egg, which is white with reddish-brown spots, mainly at the large end. more....

Conservation: The Crested Hawk-eagle is the most widespread and common Asiatic hawk-eagle species, but some of the individual subspecies have small ranges and are probably under considerable threat from habitat loss. Gamauf et al. (2005) estimated that andamensis inhabits less than 6,475 kmē and vanheurni only 1,600 kmē, so the populations of both forms are probably quite small. The race ceylanensis inhabits Sri Lanka, covering approximately 65,000 kmē, and it is still relatively common and presently not threatened (Harrison 1999). The races cirrhatus and limnaeetus are distributed over even larger ranges and are not threatened. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

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 10,001 to 100,000 individuals. BirdLife International (2009) declined to venture a population estimate.

Important References: 
Clark, W.S. 1994. Changeable 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.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Naoroji, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher
  Helm, London.
Rasmussen, P.C., and J.C. Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia -- the
  Ripley guide. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Sites of Interest:
Crested Hawk-eagle photos.
ARRCN Spizaetus Distribution Maps
Aims to create distribution maps and habitat analysis for the genus Spizaetus (Nisaetus) in Asia.

Balakrishnan, Peroth
Gamauf, Anita
Gjershaug, Jan Ove
Kim Chye, Lim
Kothe, Sudhanshu
Lim, Aun -Tiah
Purnama, Surya
Suparman, Usep
Withaningsih, Susanti

Last modified: 5/24/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Crested Hawk-eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Jan. 2022

Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Copyright © 1999-2012 The Peregrine Fund. All Rights Reserved.