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What Is a Spizaetus?

A Spizaetus is a captivating genus of eagles, known for their striking appearance and agile hunting prowess. These raptors soar through diverse habitats, playing a crucial role in their ecosystems. With their keen eyesight and powerful talons, they embody the wild's untamed spirit. Curious about their survival strategies and the conservation efforts to protect them? Let's explore their world together.
A. Delgado
A. Delgado

A spizaetus is a genus of hawk-eagles found in the tropical regions of North America, Central America and South America. The four species in this genus are the black hawk-eagle, ornate hawk-eagle, black-and-white hawk eagle and black-and-chestnut eagle. Although these species differ slightly in size, they are generally around 2 to 2.5 feet (61 to 76 cm) long with wingspans ranging from 36 to 65 inches (91 to 165 cm) wide. Each spizaetus species has a distinct appearance that helps it blend in with its environment. The hawk-eagles are skilled hunters that feed primarily on other birds and mammals.

Black hawk-eagles, or Spizaetus tyrannus, inhabit tropical forests, open forests and wetlands as far north as Mexico and as far south as the eastern coast of Brazil and northern Argentina. Adults range in size from 23.5 to 26 inches (60 to 66 cm) long and have wingspans measuring between 45 and 58 inches (115 to 148 cm) wide. Their body and crest feathers are mainly black with white and gray bands on the undersides of the wings and tail. The diet of this species includes small monkeys, bats, marsupials, iguanas, snakes and toucans.

Spizaetus melanoleucus hunt amphibians, like frogs.
Spizaetus melanoleucus hunt amphibians, like frogs.

Ornate hawk-eagles, or Spizaetus ornatus, are found in subtropical and tropical forests, swamps and lowlands from Mexico to northeastern Argentina. This spizaetus species measures between 23 and 26 inches (58 to 66 cm) in length with a wingspan of 36 to 48 inches (91 to 122 cm) wide. Adults have a crest of feathers on the head that sometimes stick straight up. Their coloring is mainly a reddish-brown with bands of white and dark brown or black feathers on the chest. Ornate hawk-eagles feed primarily on other birds, such as macaws, but their diet also consists of mammals and reptiles.

Black hawk-eagles, or Spizaetus tyrannus, live in tropical and open forests and wetlands as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina.
Black hawk-eagles, or Spizaetus tyrannus, live in tropical and open forests and wetlands as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina.

The forests and savannas of Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela and other South and Central American countries serve as the natural habitat for the black-and-white hawk-eagle, or Spizaetus melanoleucus. Adults typically reach an average body length of 22.5 inches (57 cm) and have wingspans around 51 inches (130 cm) wide. These hawk-eagles have white feathers covering the head and chest and black feathers on the wings and back. Their head crests are shorter than those of other hawk-eagles. They hunt other birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.

Ornate hawk-eagles feed primarily on other birds, such as macaws.
Ornate hawk-eagles feed primarily on other birds, such as macaws.

Black-and-chestnut eagles, or Spizaetus isidori, live in the forests of mountainous areas in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia. They measure between 25 and 29 inches (63 to 74 cm) long and have wingspans between 58 and 65 inches (147 to 166 cm) wide. Their coloring is a mix of black, chestnut and white feathers, with the darker feathers covering the wings, crest and back and the lighter feathers on the chest. They feed mainly on other large birds and mammals, such as monkeys.

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Discussion Comments

burcinc

The hawks in this genus are so beautiful. I watched them on a show about wild animals on TV and found them very interesting. I love their color. It's not exactly black, it's like a faded black or a very dark gray. And they have a rather small head and small beak. If I didn't know how dangerous they could be, I would say that they're rather cute. But of course, a hawk is never cute, a hawk has a very royal look. And the black hawk eagles look royal too.

discographer

@SteamLouis-- Yes, black and chestnut eagles eat monkeys. In fact I read that in Brazil, the locals refer to it as the "monkey catching eagle." They also eat very large rodent and birds. They can eat toucans too.

I think that this variety of eagle is fairly unique. I'm not an expert but I think that most eagles prefer rodents and small birds. Most do not eat mammals. Th spizaetus genus is special in that sense.

SteamLouis

A hawk-eagle species eating small monkeys?! I had never heard of eagles eating monkeys before. I'm shocked.

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    • Spizaetus melanoleucus hunt amphibians, like frogs.
      By: alle
      Spizaetus melanoleucus hunt amphibians, like frogs.
    • Black hawk-eagles, or Spizaetus tyrannus, live in tropical and open forests and wetlands as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina.
      By: Ekler
      Black hawk-eagles, or Spizaetus tyrannus, live in tropical and open forests and wetlands as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina.
    • Ornate hawk-eagles feed primarily on other birds, such as macaws.
      By: Vladimir Melnik
      Ornate hawk-eagles feed primarily on other birds, such as macaws.