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Spizaetus ornatus

Ornate Hawk-Eagle

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies

Authors: Iliff, Marshall

Spizaetus ornatus

Mirador Basin, Peten, Guatemala, 27 February 2008 © Christopher L. Wood

The Ornate Hawk-Eagle has a broad range throughout much of the Neotropics, living in tropical forests generally below 1800 meters. They are often seen in early morning as they perch on emergent snags or along forest edges. In the late morning they are most often detected as they circle low over the canopy, often calling tirelessly. Note, however, that they soar and vocalize less frequently than Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus). Ornate Hawk-Eagles feed on a wide variety of large prey items from tinamous and macaws to monkeys and opossums but also consume smaller prey. Identification is generally straightforward: adults have rich rufous neck sides, heavily barred underparts, a banded tail, and a long crest. The crest can be erected or laid back on the head, and sometimes the species is misidentified by those who expect Ornate Hawk-Eagle to be prominently crested at all times.

Recommended Citation

Iliff, Marshall. 2010. Ornate Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus ornatus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:---
  • Diet:Birds
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Platform
  • Clutch: 1 - 1
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern