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African Hawk-Eagle - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Paul Tavares
Pilanesberg, South Africa, November 2006
Aquila spilogaster

Hieraaetus spilogaster


Photo © by charelli
Botswana, May 2018

55–62 cm (21¾-24½ in)

  • Dark brown upperparts
  • White underside with dark streaks
  • Short and rounded wings
    • Often shows a pale primary panel in upperwings
    • Whitish fore-underwing-coverts (ie lesser/median coverts)
    • Blackish rear underwing-coverts (ie greater/median coverts and primary coverts)
    • Whitish underwing flight-feathers which in adult have single broad black terminal band
  • Tail: finely barred with dark grey, single broad black terminal band
  • Yellow feet and iris

Immature: deep buff below and on underwing coverts with narrow dark band along the rear of the coverts, fine barring on tail and flight feathers, which both lack a terminal band.

Similar Species

Bonelli's Eagle shows a white patch on the mantle; in the adult bird, flight feathers should be dusky with a broad black trailing edge (only overlaps in very northern parts of the range of African Hawk Eagle).


Widespread throughout Africa south of the Sahara: Western Africa: Mauritania, Senegambia, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, eSwatini


Photo © by Leon
Tswaing (Meteoric crater) 50km north of Pretoria, South Africa, June 2004

This is a monotypic species1.

African Hawk-Eagle has been split from Bonelli's Eagle. Both were formerly placed in genus Hieraaetus.


This bird prefers acacia scrub in rocky areas at low to medium elevations. They especially favour wooded water-courses in such areas.



Feeds on mammals such as the African Hare along with gamebirds eg guineafowl or francolins.


Nests in trees or on cliffs and tends to perch conspicuously in trees.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Birdforum thread discussing separation of Bonelli's Eagle from African Hawk Eagle
  3. Sinclair et al. 2002. Birds of Southern Africa. Princeton Field Guides, Princeton, New Jersey, USA. ISBN 0-691-09682-1
  4. Avibase

Recommended Citation

External Links

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