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Long-crested Eagle
Lophaetus occipitalis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Long-crested Hawk Eagle, Long-crested Hawk-eagle.


Lophaetus occipitalis
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical. SENEGAMBIA east to ETHIOPIA and south to northern NAMIBIA, northern BOTSWANA and eastern SOUTH AFRICA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Placed in the genus Spizaetus by Amadon (1982) and Amadon and Bull (1988), but Brooke et al. (1972) suggested that it is closely related to Aquila. The molecular study of Helbig et al. (2005), using DNA sequences of one mitochondrial and three nuclear genes, indicated that this species is closely related to the "spotted eagles", Aquila clanga and A. pomarina (and thus the recently separated A. hastata), and they recommended that all of these species be merged into the genus Lophaetus. Some systematists (e.g., Wink and Sauer-Gürth 2004) would favor merging the genus Hieraaetus into Aquila. A molecular phylogenetic study by Lerner and Mindell (2005), based on DNA sequences of one nuclear and two mitochondrial genes, also found support for these relationships and reported that this clade also includes the Black Eagle of Asia, which has traditionally been placed in the separate monotypic genus, Ictinaetus.

Movements: Mostly sedentary, but moves opportunistically into areas of temporarily abundant food supply (Irwin 1981, Steyn 1982) and is somewhat nomadic in areas of pronounced wet and dry season, e.g., West Africa (Gatter 1997, Borrow and Demey 2001). In Uganda, the clearing of vegetation such as elephant grass often results in an influx of Long-crested Eagles (Carswell et al. 2005). In a 16-year study of this species in the Nelspruit District of Mpulamanga, South Africa, Hall (1992) found that females were absent from their breeding territories during the non-breeding season. However, from reporting rates to the atlas of southern African birds, there was no evidence of regular seasonal movements of Long-crested Eagle populations (Jenkins 1997). more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in all types of forested areas and wooded savannas, especially in moist woodlands areas in the vicinity of marshes, wetlands, and rivers. Compensates for the loss of forest in some areas by utilizing exotic tree plantations, agricultural plantings, and other modified habitats (Hartley and Verdoorn 2000). Spends most of its time on exposed perches in tall trees or power poles at the edge of woodland, clearings, or along roads. Does a limited amount of soaring. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on large rodents, but small birds are also taken. This species is a still hunter, dropping from an exposed perch onto prey. more....

Breeding: Breeding occurs throughout the year in some areas, e.g., Zimbabwe (Irwin 1981), but is erratic, probably in response to fluctuations in rodent populations, which reflect rainfall conditions (Hall 1992). It builds a well concealed stick nest placed in trees near the edge of woodland. This species may compete directly for nest sites with Black Sparrowhawks (Steyn 1982, Hall 1992). more....

Conservation: Widespread throughout Africa in forested areas and generally common, but absent from the arid west. The principal threats to this species are habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, including the draining of wetlands, poisoning, and collisions with powerlines and vehicles (Hartley and Verdoorn 2000). This species has prospered in some areas from the planting of exotic tree plantations, and it is also is somewhat adaptable to modified habitats, so it may actually be more common in some regions than historically (Jenkins 1997, Simmons 2005). Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) placed the global population (defined as the number of adult and immature birds) in the range of 10,001 to 100,000 individuals and probably near the upper end of this range. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of mature birds at 10,000 to 100,000 individuals, while noting that the supporting data are poor. more....

Important References: 
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.
Jenkins, A.R. 1997. Longcrested Eagle. Pp. 190-191 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.
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Long-crested 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.
Simmons, R.E. 2005. Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis. Pp. 539-540
  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.
more....

Sites of Interest:
VIREO
Long-crested Eagle photos.

Researchers:
Middleton, Angus
Steyn, Peter

Last modified: 5/12/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2014. Species account: Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 17 Apr. 2014








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