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Black-and-white Hawk-eagle
Spizaetus melanoleucus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Black-and-white Hawk Eagle, Black and White Hawk, Black and White Hawk Eagle, Buteo melanoleucus, Spizastur melanoleucus.

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Spizaetus melanoleucus
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Distribution: Neotropical.  Eastern and southern MEXICO (Nayarit, Oaxaca, Veracruz) and BELIZE south through humid Central America to COLOMBIA, south to western ECUADOR and east to VENEZUELA and the GUIANAS, south through the Amazon Basin to eastern PERU and BOLIVIA (Beni, Santa Cruz and eastern and southern BRAZIL to northeastern ARGENTINA and PARAGUAY. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: The taxonomic position of this species has always been a subject of debate. Although it has been placed in a monotypic genus, Spizastur, by most authors for the last century, others have included it in Spizaetus, Hieraaetus, or (earlier) even in Buteo. The recent molecular studies of Helbig et al. (2005) and Lerner and Mindell (2005), based on the DNA sequences of both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, confirmed that Spizastur is closely related to the other New World species of Spizaetus and recommended merging it into that genus. The AOU Committee on Classification and Nomenclature concurred with this change (Banks et al. 2007), as did the AOU's South American Classification Committee (Remsen et al. 2009).

Movements: Non-migratory, but juveniles disperse from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006). Birds occasionally wander outside the margins of the usual breeding range (e.g., to the Yucatan Peninsula or to higher altitudes).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands and middle elevations, frequently edges, gaps, and heavily shaded clearings in wet gallery forest and sometimes isolated stands of wet forest remnants in savannas. It is reminiscent of a kite species, when seen soaring gracefully above the canopy. It perches on foliaged branches high in tall trees, but does not remain at one spot long before flying on to another stopping place (Slud 1964). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on intermediate-sized birds (toucans, wood-quails, oropendolas, caciques), but also takes small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, including toads. Hunts on the wing, stooping from high soaring flight into the canopy (Willis 1988), but also from exposed perches in tall trees, or by pursuing prey in tail chases. Thiollay (2007) reported that it regularly attacks birds in fruiting trees in French Guiana. The observations of Robinson (1994) and his colleagues in Peru suggested that most attacks occur from the cover of the forest. Voous (1969) remarked that the large size of the claws suggests that this species preys on large mammals, but this does not coincide with its reported prey choices. more....

Breeding: Strauch (1975) described a nest from Panama, and Anderson (2004) recently reported another one from Honduras. Both were large cup-shaped structure made of sticks and placed in the top of emergent trees within primary rainforest. A clutch of two eggs purportedly of this species had a creamy white ground color with dark brown, gray-lilac, and light brown spots (Kreuger 1963). more....

Conservation: This species is Endangered in southern Mexico and Central America, where it is rare or extirpated in every country, with the possible exception of Panama. It is more common in South America, but still rare or uncommon in most areas, and it has suffered major population declines in some areas, e.g., western Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). It may be more tolerant of habitat change and human disturbance than Ornate and Black Hawk-eagles. It is presently categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimated the global population, including adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season, in the range of 10,001 to 100,000 individuals, but commented that the population seems unlikely to exceed the low tens of thousands. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the population of mature birds at 10,000 individuals, but noted that the supporting data for any estimate are poor.

Important References: 
Bierregaard, R.O.B. 1994. Black-and-white Hawk-eagle. P. 201 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.

Sites of Interest:
Black-and-white Hawk-eagle photos.
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account with emphasis on Brazil.

Albuquerque, Jorge
Canuto, Marcus
Carvalho, Carlos Eduardo Alencar
Carvalho Filho, Eduardo Pio Mendes
Curti, Marta
De Lucca, Eduardo Raul
Eisermann, Knut
Giudice, Renzo
Gómez, César
Iñigo-Elias, Eduardo
Lemos, Môsar
Lisboa, Jorge
Ospina, Alex
Phillips, Ryan
Piana, Renzo
Quaglia, Agustin Ignacio Eugenio
Quirós Bazán, Norman
Salvador Jr, Luiz
Seminario, Yeray
Silveira da Silva, Elsimar
Vargas G., José de J.
Zorzin, Giancarlo

Last modified: 5/17/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Black-and-white Hawk-eagle Spizaetus melanoleucus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 5 Aug. 2020

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