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Crowned Hawk-eagle
Stephanoaetus coronatus

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: African Crowned Eagle, Crowned Eagle, Crowned Hawk Eagle.

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Stephanoaetus coronatus
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Distribution: Afrotropical. SENEGAMBIA east to southern KENYA and central ETHIOPIA south to ANGOLA, northeastern BOTSWANA and eastern SOUTH AFRICA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Sometimes placed in the genus Spizaetus (Amadon 1982, Amadon and Bull 1988), based on morphological characters. A molecular phylogenetics study by Helbig et al. (2005), using DNA sequences of one mitochondrial and three nuclear genes, indicated that the Crowned Hawk-eagle is a sister species to the Asian hawk-eagle species formerly assigned to Spizaetus and recently moved to a separate genus, Nisaetus. However, there was lower support for this grouping from the mitochondrial genes than from the nuclear sequences. The study by Lerner and Mindell (2005), based on molecular sequences of two mitochondrial and one nuclear gene, did not reveal a close relationship of this eagle to any other accipitrine species, and they found it to be genetically highly divergent from other "booted" eagles. The preferred common name for this species is presently in flux. The name "African Hawk-eagle" is being used more frequently to reduce confusion with the unrelated Crowned Solitary Eagle of the Neotropics, but some authors refer to the species as "African Crowned Eagle."

Movements: Adults are sedentary, but juveniles disperse from breeding areas (Oatley et al. 1998, Bildstein 2006). Forty-four birds have been ringed in southern Africa, and there have been four recoveries, all of which occurred near the ringing localities (Oatley et al. 1998).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in both lowland and montane evergreen forest, dense woodland, and forested ravines and gorges in open savannas and thornveld (Boshoff 1997). In Malawi, highland birds forage in lower miombo woodland, and lower altitudes, breeding occurs in deciduous forest, more locally in dense miombo, tall riparian woodlands, and even in remnants close to cultivation (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006). In southern Africa, its ditribution south of the Limpopo River coincides with montane forest, although it is not restricted to that habitat (Oatley et al. 1998). In some areas, it has moved into exotic tree plantations and other altered habitats. Adults are usually seen in pairs and spend much time perching unobtrusively in the forest canopy. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Although it is not the largest African eagle, it is the most powerful, and Steyn (1982) noted that it kills antelope up to six times its own mass. It also preys on monkeys and other medium-sized mammals, including small antelopes (duikers and klipspringers) and game birds. There is an increasing amount of evidence that predation on early hominids by this eagle, or a congeneric species, was an important factor in human evolution. more....

Breeding: Builds a huge stick nest placed in an emergent tree. Clutch size is usually 2 eggs.more....

Conservation: Widespread and locally common in many portions of sub-Saharan Africa, but declining in some areas and extirpated from others as a result of habitat loss from deforestation, persecution, including shooting, trapping, and nest destruction (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Some habitat losses have been offset by the establishment of exotic tree plantations, where this species can nest, but which generally lack a sufficient prey base (Tarboton and Allan 1984, Simmons 2005). Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International until recently, but its status was changed to Near Threatened in 2012. more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) placed the global population (defined as the number of adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season) in the range of 1,001 to 10,000 birds, but nearer the latter total. BirdLife International (2009) also estimated the number of mature individuals at between 1,000 to 10,000, but noted that the data quality on which this estimate is based is poor. more....

Important References: 
Boshoff, A.F. 1997. Crowned Eagle. Pp. 194-195 in J.A. Harrison et al.
  (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1: Non-passerines. BirdLife
  South Africa and Avian Demography Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol. 1.
  Academic Press, London.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Crowned Hawk-eagle. P. 205 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.
Simmons, R.E. 2005. African Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus. Pp.
  541-542 in P.A.R. Hockey, W.R.J. Dean, and P.G. Ryan (eds.),
  Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird
  Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.
Steyn, P. 1982. Birds of prey of southern Africa: their identification and
  life histories. David Phillip, Cape Town, South Africa.

Sites of Interest:
African Crowned Eagle photos.

Deacon, Neil
Jais, Markus
Middleton, Angus
Steyn, Peter

Last modified: 8/20/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Crowned Hawk-eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jul. 2020

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