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Black Solitary Eagle
Buteogallus solitarius

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Black Solitary-eagle, Montane Solitary Eagle, Solitary Eagle, Harpyhaliaetus solitarius, Urubitornis solitarius.

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Buteogallus solitarius
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Distribution: Nearctic/Neotropical. Occurs locally from northern MEXICO (Tamaulipas, Sonora) south through Central America and South America east of the Andes to northern ARGENTINA. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. H. s. sheffleri: Western MEXICO (Sonora), but southern extent of range unknown; H. s. solitarius: Northeastern MEXICO (Tamaulipas) south through Central America to COLOMBIA (Santa Marta Mtns.) east to VENEZUELA and south east of the Andes through ECUADOR to northwestern PERU, BOLIVIA, PARAGUAY, and northwestern ARGENTINA (Salta). more....

Taxonomy: Hellmayr and Conover (1949) lumped this species with H. coronatus, but Wetmore (1965) suggested that the two species are so different that they might be better placed in separate genera. Molecular data show that they are closely related, but not conspecific. Brown (1970) thought that Harpyhaliaetus is closely related to the harpy eagle group. However, the molecular studies of Lerner and Mindell (2005) and Raposo do Amaral et al. (2006) showed they are more closely related to Buteogallus (particularly the Great Black-hawk, B. urubitinga) than to other eagles of the genera Aquila, Spizaetus, and Harpia. The generic name Urubitornis was used by Peters 1931, Friedmann 1950, and Wetmore (1965).

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant (Bildstein 2006).

Habitat and Habits: Mostly middle and montane elevations, rarely in lowlands. Occurs in heavily forested areas in hilly or mountainous terrain, including dry pine forests in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico and moister forests in more tropical latitudes, usually between 600 to 2,200 m . Often soars to great heights, either singly or in pairs, perhaps as a territorial strategy. Perches on tops of trees, but rarely in open (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Hilty 2003).

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on snakes, but may also takes medium-sized birds and small mammals. more....

Breeding: Only three nests of this species are known with certainty. Two found in Mexico were large cup-shaped structures made of coarse sticks and lined with finer sticks and fresh green leaves, including palm fronds (Harrison and Kiff 1977). One nest was located about 27 km high in the central crotch of a Yellow Pine (Pinus ponderosa), and the other was in the main crotch of a fig tree (Ficus sp.), growing in a canyon bottom. One of the nests contained a single nestling, and the other held one egg, which was dull white and unmarked. It was oval in shape and measured 75.71 x 57.45 mm. Phillips (2012) recently reported another nest from Belize. It appeared similar to the ones in Mexico, and it also contained a single nestling, which was fed by both adults. Another purported Black Solitary Eagle nest reported from Oaxaca was probably misidentified (Smith 1982). more....

Conservation: This species is apparently rare, local, and poorly known throughout its extensive range, and its conservation status and requirements are badly in need of clarification. It may suffer from a loss of habitat, and shooting (but not likely "hunting," as suggested by BirdLife International). There are perennial identification problems in separating this species from the much more numerous Great Black Hawk, so it may be under-reported, or over-reported, depending upon the observer. Categorized as Near Threatened by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimated the global population (defined as the number of adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season) in the 101 to 1,000 range, but rightly noted that so little is known about this species that any real estimate is impossible, even in general terms. Similarly, BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of mature birds at 250 to 999 individuals, but noted that the supporting data are poor. BirdLife suggested, however, that a 1000-bird estimate may be too low.

Important References: 
Amadon, D. Notes on Harpyhaliaetus. Auk 66:53-56.
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Black Solitary Eagle. P. 175 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.
Clark, W.S.. H.L. Jones, C.D. Benesh, and N.J. Schmitt. 2006. Field
  identification of the Solitary Eagle. Birding 38:66-74.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Harrison, E.N., and L.F. Kiff 1977. The nest and egg of the Black Solitary
  Eagle. Condor 79:132-133.
Phillips, R. 2012. An active nest of the rare Solitary Eagle
  Harpyhaliaetus solitarius discovered in Belize. Spizaetus 13:2-8.
Seminario, Y., R. Phillips,, and M. Curti. 2011. Observations of the
  post-fledging behavior and prey of the Solitary Eagle. Journal
  of Raptor Research 45:261-264.
van Rossem, A.J. 1948. A race of Urubitornis solitaria from
  northwestern Mexico. Proceedings of the Biological Society of
  Washington 61:67-68.

Sites of Interest:

Curti, Marta
Eisermann, Knut
Pereyra Lobos, Roberto
Phillips, Ryan
Rodriguez, Ramiro Ezequiel
Salvador Jr, Luiz
Seminario, Yeray

Last modified: 9/3/2015

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Black Solitary Eagle Buteogallus solitarius. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 26 Oct. 2021

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