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Mountain Hawk-eagle
Nisaetus nipalensis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Feather-toed Hawk-eagle, Hodgson's Hawk Eagle, Legge's Hawk-eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Spizaetus nipalensis.

Nisaetus nipalensis
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Distribution: Indomalayan/Palearctic. Himalayas of INDIA and NEPAL east to southern CHINA (Yunnan, Hainan), and TAIWAN south to northern Indochina and northern Malay Peninsula (THAILAND); JAPAN. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. S. n. nipalensis: Himalayas of INDIA and NEPAL east through southern CHINA to eastern CHINA (Zhejiang) and TAIWAN, south to northern Indochina and northern Malay Peninsula and VIETNAM; S. n. orientalis: Russian Far East, probably northeastern CHINA, JAPAN, and possibly NORTH KOREA. more....

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. alboniger and N. nipalensis are sister species, based on the molecular sequences of two mitochondrial genes and one nuclear intron. Haring et al. (2007) also confirmed that Asian Spizaetus (Nisaetus) species are monophyletic and are distributed in two sub-clades, one of which consists of N. alboniger, N. bartelsi, N. nanus, and N. nipalensis. The race N.n. orientalis may be a separate species (Brazil 2009). Gjershaug (2006) and Gjershaug et al. (2008) argued that the form kelaarti should be treated as a full species, based on differences in morphology, plumages, mensural characters, and vocalizations, but this treatment has not yet been accepted by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group (2008).

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant, with juveniles dispersing from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006). Also an altitudinal migrant in some areas.

Habitat and Habits: Breeds in heavily forested montane areas up to about 2,000 m, descending to lower elevations in winter (Brazil 2009). Inhabits subtropical and broad-leafed forests and fir forest at higher altitudes in Bhutan; avoids pine forests (Spierenburg 2005).

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on small mammals, especially hares, and terrestrial birds, including junglefowl, domestic poultry, ducks, and pheasants, large snakes, and lizards (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). There are anecdotal accounts from several parts of its range of this eagle taking small monkeys as prey, but these may involve sick or dying animals. Typically still-hunts from a perch, stooping to take prey on the ground. more....

Breeding: Builds a large stick nest placed in a tree, sometimes growing in an isolated location. Clutch size is 1 egg, sometimes 2. The incubation and nestling periods are apparently unrecorded. more....

Conservation: Although it is common in some areas, mostly in the northern portions of its range, it is rather uncommon in most other areas, although it is probably under-recorded to some extent. Like all other South-East Asian eagles, this species suffers from deforestation and other forms of habitat loss. Categorized globally 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 1,001 to 10,000 individuals, but thought it was mostly likely nearer the latter figure. BirdLife International (2009) also estimated the total number of mature individuals at 10,000 birds. Both of these estimates included populations of N. kelaarti, which was formerly regarded as a subspecies of N. nipalensis. According to Ferguson-Lees and Christie (op cit.), the population in Japan was estimated at 900 to 1,000 individuals in 1984, but at 1,800 individuals in 2004, probably reflecting better coverage (Asai et al. 2006).

Important References: 
Clark, W.S. 1994. Mountain 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.
Gjershaug, J.O.. 2006. Taxonomy and conservation status of hawk-eagles
  (genus Nisaetus) in South-east Asia. Ph.D. dissertation, Norwegian
  University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
Helbig, A.J., A. Kocum, I. Seibold, and M.J. Braun. 2005. A multi-gene
  phylogeny of aquiline eagles (Aves: Accipitriformes) reveals extensive
  paraphyly at the genus level. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Lerner, H.R., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Phylogeny of eagles, Old World
  vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:327-346.
Morimoto, S., and T. Iida. 21992. Ecology and preservation of Hodgson's
  Hawk-eagles. Strix 11:59-90.
Naoroji, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher
  Helm, London.
Stresemann, E. 1924. Raubvogelstudien: die Formenkreise Spizaetus
(Hodgson) und Spizaetus cirrhatus (Gmelin). Journal für
  Ornithologie 72:430-432.
Tago, K., et al. 2015. The breeding success of Mountain Hake-Eagles in
  relation to environmental factors. Japanese Journal of Ornithology
Yamazaki, T. 2000. Ecological research and its relationship to the
  conservation programme of the Golden Eagle and the Japanese Mountain
  Hawk-eagle. Pp. 195-210 in The Committee for the Symposium on
  Raptors of South-east Asia (eds.), The First Symposium on Raptors of
  South-east Asia: Proceedings. The Committee for the Symposium
  on Raptors of South-east Asia, Yasu, Japan.
Yamazaki, T. 2000. Ecological research and its relationship to the
  conservation programme of the Golden Eagle and the Japanese Mountain-eagle.
  Pp. 415-422 in R.D. chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors at risk.
  World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls, Berlin.

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

Chen, Huisheng
Deshmukh, Ajit
Gamauf, Anita
Gjershaug, Jan Ove
Hathwar, Vishnupriya
Kim Chye, Lim
Lim, Aun -Tiah
Naoroji, Rishad K.
Yamada, Ritsuo

Last modified: 5/20/2016

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Mountain Hawk-eagle Nisaetus nipalensis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 25 Sep. 2020

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